Deterioration of Ultimate Dining Among COVID Era

By Latifa Waithera Zain 

Since the pandemic started things at Ultimate Dining have changed, which was expected. We all knew we’d have to social distance, that masks would be required, you know the usual things. However, I don’t think people expected the quality of the food to drop as well. At least I didn’t.  

For me, the meal swipes never really had much variety. I’m constantly finding myself eating the same things day in and day out. But when I would eat at Ultimate, pre-COVID, I felt like I was eating something different. Even though there is still something new on the menu every day, it all feels like a major downgrade. 

“The quality of the food has decreased overall. It’s not consistent,” said Zahra Wilson, a sophomore at The University of Tampa. “Some days it’s great and some days it’s horrible.” 

Pre-COVID, anyone could walk into Ultimate and fill up their box as they pleased. “There was more variety and the opportunity to pick out your own food. We don’t really have the liberty to get what we want anymore,” Wilson said. 

Now you can’t walk in if you’re taking out. My guess is that they’re trying to reduce the traffic in Ultimate. However, whatever they have at the entrance is not doing it for me.  

Every time I’ve been in, and to be quite honest I don’t know why I keep going back, the food has been extremely cold. I got pizza once, cold. Hot dog, cold. Burgers and fries, cold and stale.  

“I think the food is less hot compared to last year,” says Wilson. “The takeout was cold the last time I was there.”  

I’m not going to lie, the concept of the takeout was intriguing to me at first. They could have had something going there, but the execution has been subpar. It’s not just the fact that I’ve never once had a warm meal from Ultimate Dining. It’s also the fact that the sandwiches are just okay and that they tell you to choose two items with green stickers, but there are only two items with green stickers. The fruit salad or the yogurt and fruits.   

It’s like dining service isn’t trying anymore. I do think they’ve given us some positives with their little COVID-19 remodeling, like the distance between the tables. Things at least don’t feel too congested anymore. 

“I like that it’s more spacious. I feel like it’s more comfortable because I have my own space with my friends when I’m eating and I’m not right next to another person,” said Kalsey Diggs, a sophomore at UT.. To some, this is the only positive they see with Ultimate today.  

The sandwich section was probably my  favorite section at Ultimate. That and the grilled chicken. I felt like it didn’t matter what I was throwing into my sandwich, as long as it took a trip through the panini press, I knew it would taste just right. However, it unfortunately fell victim to the COVID cuts like many other things.  

I understand that we’re in the middle of a global pandemic. I get it. But I feel like the school is throwing the word “pandemic” at us whenever it best suits them. They aren’t consistent with their regulations or how they enforce their rules. In my opinion, they’re just using the pandemic as an excuse to cut costs where they can.

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