Cuba’s Student Food Services: An Unfinished Agenda

Yanelys Nuñez Leyva

The main library of the University of Havana.

HAVANA TIMES, Feb 16 — The issue of food has been one of my greatest concerns ever since I was admitted to the College of Arts and Letters here at the University of Havana.

In my first years of school there wasn’t a place to buy inexpensive food, and we were cut off from places that offered those services. At least we had a canteen though, which did more good than harm in providing us with something to eat to get us through our afternoon classes.

At the meetings of the FEU (the Federation of University Students), we continually fought for the establishment of a regular cafeteria, and after a lot of dawdling we finally won our demand, but the administration also took steps that effectively eliminated lunches for off-campus students from the capital.

Their solution was simple: they implemented a single class session — in the mornings only — justifying this as being due to the country’s precarious economic situation.

But the issue was more complicated.

If a student who didn’t live in the dorms and needed to go to the library after classes, they had no choice but to make a long trip home for lunch and then come back here again, though knowing that by the time they got here, the place might be closed.

As everyone here knows, public transportation doesn’t meet the heavy demands of our society, just as the schedules of educational institutions don’t meet the real needs of students.

The other solution was to buy something light to eat at our “stupendous” cafeteria, whose prices were too high — and still are — and the food second rate.

This second option of using the cafeteria is still the most widely used since the system for studying is too rushed and you can’t waste a lot of time.

This began the current phase of the food problem, one in which our parents’ pockets have taken the biggest hit.

At no time was a meeting held to discuss whether this was the correct decision or not. Its unsuitability could be seen in the faces of the students, but — as almost always — we resigned ourselves to the situation and remained quiet.

After two years of these transformations, everything seems calm. We students are accustomed to spending our little school stipends on bad and expensive food while at the same time trying to feed our spirits.

Yanelys Nuñez

Yanelys Nuñez Leyva: Writing is to expose oneself, undress before the inquisitive eyes of all. I like to write, not because I have developed a real fondness for nudity, but because I love composing words, thinking of stories, phrases that touch, images that provoke different feelings. Here I have a place to talk about art, life, me. In the end, feeling good about what you do is what matters; either with or without clothing.

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One thought on “Cuba’s Student Food Services: An Unfinished Agenda

  • One might wonder if the students couldn’t ‘get together’ and introduce fast food carts run by and for students ? The carts could come under a ‘business model’ and supply inexpensive food and ‘hands on’ simple business experience for people by learning how to stock and run a food cart ? That way people could learn the how to run a small business ‘model’ while going to school and supply the “much needed” inexpensive food right on campus ?

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