What are grad students supposed to eat when campus dining is closed?

Date: January 2020


Dear Deans,

What are grad students supposed to eat outside of the standard academic calendar? Considering 35 percent of the student population is graduate students, it would be nice if even 35 percent of the dining options were open for normal hours. I’m sure this would benefit faculty/staff too since this time is not considered a university holiday.

At least now I won’t have to budget for a gym membership.


A starving grad student


Dear Starving Grad Student,

Thanks for your Ask a Dean question. You may be aware of these resources already, but you can check the operating hours for Manndible Café (they were open many days during the January intersession), and for Cornell Dining Eateries. Many of them were open during the January intersession. In addition, there are groceries and cafés just off-campus in Collegetown that are open when classes are not in session.

Personally, my strategy – not only during the January intersession but all year long – is to bring my lunch to work. I use a reusable, sturdy lunch bag with two cold packs so I am not dependent on having access to a refrigerator. I can readily choose the food I eat. I prepare a healthy, nutritious lunch either in the morning before I leave for work or the night before, typically a salad including beans and nuts for protein, nonfat plain Greek yogurt, and an apple. I purchase large containers of Greek yogurt and put a meal’s serving in a reusable plastic container, which saves money and reduces waste. I also put my salad in a reusable plastic container, and I bring a fabric (washable/reusable) napkin.

I’ve been doing this almost every day since I began at Cornell in July, 1986. Occasionally I will purchase a lunch on campus, but quite rarely. Think of all the money and resources I’ve saved over the past 34 years by using reusable containers, limiting waste, limiting my carbon footprint, and eating healthily! I highly recommend that you give it a try, at least for some days. It could also help with budgeting for a gym membership!

Warm regards,


Barbara A. Knuth
Dean of the Graduate School