College might re-open the cafeteria, but it will take some time

By Adriana Janiga, Guest writer

Re-opening the cafeteria is one of the top priories for President Luis Sanchez at Moorpark College because he wants to bring back the hot and healthy meal concept.

“Whether a cafeteria or food court, it still remains to be seen as we go through the process of dealing with the architects,” said Sanchez.

The cafeteria was closed in March 2012, due to a budget cut, in which job positions were sacrificed in order to keep programs open for students. Vending machines replaced the cafeteria and this academic year food trucks came as a second option, leaving the hopes out of having a cafeteria again.

The students’ dissatisfaction has been shown on the walls and posters inside the building. The posted comments include, “food sucks” and “We need taco trucks.”

Student Marisol Prettel, 42, feels that the cafeteria has no soul.

“It is a sad environment, there is no motivation for me to go inside and sit down,” said Prettel.

Sanchez is aware of this disappointment.

“Whenever you make incremental advances toward an ultimate goal, what it does, it raises new levels of frustrations,” said Sanchez. “But a year ago, if you say to them ‘How do you like vending machines?’ ‘What about bringing food trucks?’ They were wildly enthusiastic with that,” said Sanchez.

The cafeteria not only needs a plan to re-open, but also needs deep renovation. The walls are peeling off, the tables and chairs are very old and the sinks are rusty. In the back of the cafeteria, there is a small barbecue area that seems unused in years. There are plants coming out of the outside sink and outside grill.

“We have a nice location, but the building itself became a little shabby,” said Sanchez. “It sits in a beautiful spot, it got really nice bones to the building, but it is in dire needs of refreshment as well as a reconfiguration for purposes in food.”

Sanchez said in order to put the cafeteria up to bid for the architects, to draw up the plans and for the contractors to build it, the next step is to be approved by the Ventura County Community College Board of Trustees and then have a shared government process where decisions are made as collegially as possible.

“I bear ultimate responsibility and I am not shy about expressing my own perspectives, but I will consult very closely with the stakeholders to make sure it is a decision that makes sense to everyone,” said Sanchez.

Sanchez believes that the budget is ready and that they have all the resources that they need for the renovation, although he also thinks that California funding community colleges is reciprocal.

“You never know for sure what are you going to get in the budget until the May revise,” said Sanchez.

Meanwhile, students and professors seem to be happy with the idea of bringing back the cafeteria.

Luis Gomez, a political science professor, believes that opening the cafeteria is important because it is the perfect place where students can interact with each other and socialize.

“The cafeteria is the place to meet, if you want to discuss before an exam or when you don’t have time to do it somewhere else,” said Gomez. “I think opening the cafeteria will be certainly a positive thing.”

Prettel thinks that a cafeteria would be great for students like her.

“As a mom, I am always on the go,” said Prettel. “I drop my kids off at their school in the morning and sometimes I don’t have time to eat. Having a better and healthy option on campus would be great.”

Sanchez would love to have the cafeteria readies by 2017, which will be Moorpark College’s 50th anniversary, but he still has to wait for the May revision.

“We are waiting very carefully to see what the government announces in May after the politics,” said Sanchez. “My perception is that whatever changes are in effect, they will not interfere with our ability to renovate.”