Students fuel push for cafeteria renovation at Merced College

MERCED, Calif. (KFSN) -- In the North Valley, a new cafeteria is underway for Merced College and it's expected to open in a week. In the meantime, both students and food service has been stationed outside for the past few weeks during renovations.

Members of student government at Merced College said the new cafeteria was on the top of their list when they were trying to find ways to improve areas for students on the campus. And while they had to shift some services around for a couple weeks, they said wanted to get this project started as soon as they were given the go ahead.

It's been 50 years since the last renovation but now the Merced College cafeteria is getting a much-needed facelift.

"It felt really small and dirty," student Gemuni Callum said.

The cafeteria closed two weeks ago to undergo a $200,000 remodel. The school plans to reopen it with an updated floor plan to serve as a better place for students to eat and study.

During the remodel, the food service was brought outside while a tent covered several tables for students to use. Merced College vice president Chris Vitelli says the Associated Students of Merced College pitched the new cafeteria back in the spring, and they were also the ones who wanted to start the renovation as soon as they could.

"It's important to realize that it is a student-driven process," he said. "They asked for the timeline. They asked for us to do it through the semester because the sooner they can have a remodeled cafeteria the sooner they can start using it."

ASMC president Jasmine Reeves-Thomas said while they knew it would inconvenience some students and staff, they wanted to make sure the cafeteria project wasn't delayed.

"The worry was if we push it back, then other things will come up of bigger importance that will get put before this and our construction time will get pushed back," she said.

Some students said the temporary set up is slightly inconvenient.

"It was inconvenient because I had to do a paper and with my computer, I couldn't charge it anywhere," Callum said. "So, I had to go across the campus to right a paper so that' inconvenient. Oh, and when it was raining."

But they say they're also looking forward to finally having a place where they can meet up and grab a bite with other students. There will be a soft opening on Monday and food services will be brought back inside and more than half of the space will be open to students.

The entire remodel will be open by the end of the month.
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