Last fall, returning students and incoming first-years alike had to adjust to a new normal of attending UVA in the midst of a pandemic, engaging in majority-online classes and adhering to COVID-19 health regulations.
This semester, gatherings are still limited to groups of six for indoor dining while outdoor gathering restrictions have been reduced. Individuals must comply with social distancing and masks in either case. Students have also been required to test weekly for the coronavirus.
Dining has also adapted with COVID-19. In addition to the existing meal exchange and flex dollar options, students have the option to skip long lines and reduce person-to-person contact through ordering in advance on the GrubHub app. One of these changes by UVA Dining, however, includes the temporary closure of Rising Roll, a popular meal exchange and flex dollar location in the bottom of New Cabell Hall.
Rising Roll provided options for breakfast and lunch, offering students an alternative to dining hall meals. This closure particularly affects first-year students who are required to purchase an unlimited meal plan.
Personally, I was disappointed to see Rising Roll’s absence in inclusion on the meal plan. It was one of my favorite lunch locations, and it was always extremely convenient to the amphitheater on a nice day, especially in the early fall.
Since first-year students are obligated to have a meal plan as they live on Grounds, the absence of Rising Roll is felt most deeply by this particular group. When asking some friends about their opinions about the loss of Rising Roll, all of them mirrored my own opinion of the loss being disappointing and pronounced this semester.
First-years Kristen Hughlett, Sarah Parks, Elizabeth Raezer, Sally Sydnor, and Virginia Webb provided a variety of responses regarding their favorite item on the Rising Roll menu. Kristen, Sarah, and Sally cited the turkey cheezer sandwich as being their favorite. Elizabeth and Virginia both loved the avocado BLT wrap. Personally, I loved to get a classic grilled cheese.
While the food was what kept students coming back to Rising Roll, the responses to what they missed the most about the establishment rarely was just the food. Many cited its accessibility to the amphitheater, variation from dining hall food, and healthier options.
Kristen said she was “sad Rising Roll is closed because it has a great location that was easy to get to for lunch, and it provided a change of food from dining hall food to add more variety to what I eat.” When it was open for breakfast, Kristen also noted that the oatmeal was “incredible.”
Elizabeth echoed the sentiment of proximity: “[Rising Roll] was so convenient to get to when I was studying in New Cabell which is one of the main places to study indoors with friends during the pandemic.”
Sarah described missing Rising Roll as it was “one of her favorite lunches, so I miss being able to get it.” She fondly recalled going to get a coffee and pastry during the afternoons because “it was always a good study break!”
Sally described Rising Roll as being “a great breakfast and lunch spot to go last semester!” She had similar feelings to Sarah that it was one of her favorite lunch spots and missed being able to sit on the amphitheater steps with friends and enjoy their food and time spent together.
Virginia appreciated Rising Roll for being “a healthy choice and that you could tell the ingredients were fresh.” She was disappointed to be without it this semester, saying, “I always felt like it was a healthy alternative to the rest of the food options near the amphitheater. While fries and a burger or dumplings and rice are delicious, Rising Roll was a great option and good for you!”
Rising Roll made a large impact on many first-years’ first semester at UVA, and it is disappointing to no longer have this option. However, it is understandably difficult in the pandemic to staff multiple meal exchange locations as employees would be put at risk through frequent exposure to large numbers of college students, even with strict COVID-19 protocols in place.
While it is reasonable to not have Rising Roll open, it is still unfortunate to not have this location available as a healthy breakfast and lunch spot for UVA students that is also located conveniently on Central Grounds.