Seniors create lunch exchange to reduce costs of off-campus meals

February 2, 2017 — by Ami Nachiappan and Roland Shen

Seniors attempt to cook their own lunches rather than spending money on off-campus food. 

In January, after two weeks of devouring $9 burritos from La Cueva and $7 personalized pizzas from MOD Pizza, seniors Mitali Shanbhag and Christine Wang could not help but begin to crave for the comfort food prepared by their moms that they enjoyed for two weeks during winter break.

On one of the rare days that the two girls stayed on-campus for lunch, they found themselves craving senior Wyatt Schulman’s homemade shrimp scampi, a pasta-based dish topped with various seafood.

“[Schulman] started to really get into cooking as a second semester senior hobby and began bringing such fancy lunches for himself,” Shanbhag said. “Because going off-campus for lunch often is really expensive, Christine and I thought it was really cool that Wyatt was making his own food.”

As Shanbhag has experienced, the privilege of going off-campus for lunch proves to be one that sophomores long for and upperclassmen take pride in. However, though going off-campus for lunch is an enjoyable experience, the expense of buying food adds up. Going off to popular lunch destinations such as Chipotle, Taco Bell and Safeway can easily accumulate to over $40 per week, especially with the addition of side dishes, drinks and gas.

Schulman, Shanbhag and Wang have noticed the extreme demands that eating out has had on their wallets, and they are among the few students who have sought to remedy the problem.

The three friends recently started a food exchange program, in which each person takes turns cooking meals and packing food for the other two, thus eliminating the costs of lunch and providing healthier food options.

“When [Shanbhag] came up with the idea of cooking for each other, she might have been joking, but I took it seriously because I don’t take the subject of lunch lightly,” Schulman said.

Shanbhag and Wang gave Schulman their tupperware as Schulman started off the exchange with shrimp risotto. On Wang’s day, she prepared Asian noodles with tomato and egg, while Shanbhag, after soliciting help from her mom, made sausage hash and brought samosas, an Indian delicacy.

Though the friends admit that getting up at 5:30 a.m. to prepare a hearty lunch for each other was a difficult task, being able to enjoy each other’s company while enjoying delicious food in the quad was worth it.

“We not only got free lunches, but also got to share a piece of our culture with each other through food,” Shanbhag said. “We wanted to save money and eat healthier which was great because the food came from someone we trust.”

Because preparing meals was hard work for the friends, their lunch exchange only lasted three days as they wanted to take a break from cooking. However, after a few more weeks of exhausting their wallets pass, the friends are determined to renew their exchange.

And for the upperclassmen who prefer staying on campus, many find the campus empty, as their friends head straight to the parking lot when the lunch bell rings.

“It is so easy to drive off-campus and buy food, but I think what we did is having an effect on others since people have been intrigued by it and told us that it’s really cool,” Shanbhag said. “I think cooking homemade food together will definitely start to be a trend.”