“Late Nights” and Continentals: IDX Dining Hall Hours Frustrate Students


Closed doors of the IDX Dining Hall.

In the fall semester of 2021, waves of student-produced Google surveys populated Champlain discord servers and email inboxes seeking to gather student opinion on Sodexo, the company Champlain hired to run its dining services. The conversation was focused primarily on frustrations regarding the variety of food, the student satisfaction with the food that was being served, and complaints surrounding the inability to take food out of the IDX dining hall in any capacity. Since these complaints were aired, it is now possible to fill a takeout container with the food served at IDX and leave with it. That has been the only change. 

It is no secret that one of the main unifying experiences throughout the student body at Champlain College is moderate to severe dissatisfaction with the Sodexo dining services, particularly the IDX dining hall. Visiting Champlain exposes that the quality of the food offered underneath the roof of the IDX building is as much a focal topic for small talk as the renaissance skyline that breaks over the same building’s roof every morning. New students at Champlain are quickly acclimated to the reality of IDX by both the more experienced students as well as their own experiences. It is such a pervasive conversation casually it has naturally manifested as formal calls to action by many students.

Despite the student frustrations that come from an apparently inflexible Sodexo, it must be understood that many of the changes the students are asking for are more complicated to put into place than what might be fully understood. The calls for changes regarding food variety and quality are the prime examples of this. However, one realm of inflexibility that seems to be easily ameliorated is IDX’s hours of operation. 

Champlain technically has three food vendors on campus, all of which are operated by Sodexo, a multi-billion dollar French “hospitality corporation.” Specifically, Sodexo’s hospitality takes the form of food services and dining facilities management. Of the dining facilities on campus, there is the IDX Dining Hall which is the most common and general food service on campus. The food found there is included in the on-campus living meal plan. There is also the EATS vendor, which is actually two separate entities operating within the same space, and is not included in the prepaid unlimited meal plan. Of the two vendors there is Zime, a breakfast and brunch focused kiosk, primarily intended for coffee and light morning food. The other is CRU5H, which acts as a more complete kitchen, offering more substantial menu items. As it stands, all of these vendor’s schedules are variable depending on the day of the week. Though the most extreme example of this variability occurs at the IDX dining hall, with its inconsistent hours and early closing times. 


Day of Week Hours of Operation
Monday 7:15am – 7:00pm
Tuesday 7:15am – 9:00pm
Wednesday 9:00am – 9:00pm
Thursday 7:15am – 9:00pm
Friday 7:15am – 9:00pm
Saturday 9:00am – 7:00pm
Sunday 9:00am – 7:00pm

Day of Week Hours of Operation
Monday 8:30am – 3:00pm
Tuesday 8:30am – 3:00pm
Wednesday 9:00am – 3:00pm
Thursday 8:30am – 3:00pm
Friday 8:30am – 3:00pm
Saturday N/A
Sunday N/A

Day of Week Hours of Operation
Monday 11:00am -10:00pm
Tuesday 11:00am -10:00pm
Wednesday 11:00am -10:00pm
Thursday 11:00am -10:00pm
Friday 11:00am -10:00pm
Saturday 4:00pm – 10:00pm
Sunday 4:00pm – 10:00pm


The student body faces an odd type of food insecurity problem. Where traditionally food insecurity is described as not having access to food because of monetary insufficiencies, a student at Champlain may not have access to food because of dining hall schedule insufficiencies. From Saturday night to Sunday morning, there is a 14 hour stretch where a Champlain student is without dining hall availability. With Saturday evening closing at 7pm and the Sunday morning opening at 9am (it should be mentioned that this 9am time only opens to a “continental breakfast” of cereal, fruit, and bagels, the “hot,” more substantial food opens later, at 11am.) If a student misses the 5 to7 p.m. dinner on Saturday or had a late lunch and decided they didn’t want to have dinner, they can expect to not eat a hot meal for another 18 hours. 

A Champlain student, who wished to remain anonymous, shared their thoughts on the IDX Dining Hall’s hours of operations. They offered their frustrations over the schedule when they were taking part in a major-specific field placement: “I needed to be there at 7:30am, it’s about a 20 minute drive so I had to leave before I could eat breakfast.” 

This was before the dining hall’s recent policy change about taking food to go, which resulted in “a lot of stealing food from the dining hall,” and while it may seem that food to-go is a work-around, it doesn’t solve the actual issue of student’s inability to get food in accordance with the schedule demanded by their education at Champlain.

Another student discussed this exact difficulty in a different way. “I had a Monday-night class and so I did a lot of eating at [CRU5H], but we only have so much money for [CRU5H,]”the student said. “The problem is you only get 150 dollars, and the food there is expensive, so you don’t get many meals.” 

This situation is most certainly a more familiar one, as night classes on Mondays are common at Champlain, which results in many students having to purchase dinner at CRU5H after they get out of class at 8:15, an hour and a half past the IDX closing time for Mondays. With the lack of consistent and reliable dining hall hours it won’t take long for that 150 dollars to disappear.

Sodexo Campus Services General Manager Jon Barzensky relayed the struggles that IDX has had to face in recent years, including the pandemic and the subsequent service industry-wide staffing shortage currently occurring. When asked directly what determines IDX Dining Hall’s schedule, he referenced student count, citing it as the primary factor for how late the dining hall would stay open. Recalling how at the onset of Coronavirus, he said, “IDX only fed about 25 students a day until August 2020.When we returned in August there were only 400 students on campus, and predominantly most people took takeout that entire year” The kitchen and service staff adjusted their hours to match what was required by the smaller number of students that they were serving at that time. 

Barzensky then explained how the decision to reallocate resources away from IDX and towards CRU5H was done in a similar effort to more efficiently provide students with a dining option according to their schedule during the thick of Covid-19. 

“We made a shift in service hours which reflect our current hours of operation,” Barzensky said. “CRU5H is able to operate with less staff than IDX and it allows our students to use the flex[money] that comes with their meal plans.” 

The problem with maintaining this schedule should become clear by now. Champlain is no longer operating its on-campus academics at such a bare-bones level. We are enjoying the tail-end of the pandemic and are thus working through the school year in full swing, field-placements, night classes, and all. At a bare minimum the school should standardize a daily 9 p.m. closing time for IDX in order to accommodate students getting out of their evening classes. The college should allow a window for its students to eat dinner without having to turn to CRU5H and be required to spend their ‘flex’ money and, undoubtedly, eventually their real money when their meal plan is already expensive enough.