Sprinting to the CEA; is it worth it?

Jordan Kimball

The Covered Eating Area (CEA) has plenty to offer and with all of the food being free, it is quite the deal. There is one problem when it comes to the lunches provided, which shouldn’t be taken lightly – the food isn’t appetizing. While trying the CEA food, I questioned what it was made out of and how it was prepared. Some items were pleasant, but most were pretty bad. The lines are long and there is nothing special about it. Sometimes, standing in line can take 20 minutes during an already short lunch break which can be frustrating for some.

I have gone to the CEA a lot recently, and after closely examining the menu and how it functions, I’ve realized that the atmosphere is bland and so is the food. I reviewed some of the lunches and this is what I found:

Thai Chili Chicken: 6/10

The Thai Chili Chicken gives a sweet flavor to your taste buds with the addition of steamed broccoli and rice.

The Thai Chili Chicken itself was pretty good. Coated in a sweet chili sauce and topped with sesame seeds, it is one of the best items the CEA has to offer. It had a sweet flavor tasting like it had come straight from a Chinese restaurant, but it didn’t look appetizing with a light, white color. It also had a bed of rice and steamed broccoli which had almost no flavor. The broccoli didn’t seem fresh and the rice tasted stale and dry. When receiving the food, I realized that it wasn’t hot enough and the portion size was somewhat small.. The Thai Chili Chicken itself somewhat makes up for these shortcomings, but this item could make some improvements.

Cheeseburger: 3/10

The Cheeseburger found in the CEA is about as boring as it gets. It is normally hard to screw up a cheeseburger, but the hot lunch staff managed to do that with this one. When receiving the cheeseburger, the food isn’t very hot and it doesn’t look appetizing. The cheese looks melted but hard and it is oozing out of the crusty burger. During the first bite, I noticed that the cheese tasted unique along with the patty being very dry. The bun is a bit soggy and when trying to apply a sauce like ketchup or mustard, it is very hard to separate the burger from the bun. Overall, this food should only be eaten if you are in need of food or are willing to give your stomach a challenge.

Cheese Pizza: 5/10

The Cheese Pizza is just okay when it comes to food at the CEA. The pizza slices are small and not very filling and they are always a bit soggy. When opening the box, you may find yourself struggling to pull the pizza out as the cheese sticks a lot. The pizza is flavorful but falls apart sometimes as it is loaded with tomato sauce. The crust tastes a little artificial, but it’s edible enough to make it a solid option for lunch in the CEA.

Popcorn Chicken and Tater Tots: 7/10

The Popcorn Chicken gives a nice crunch alongside the warm tater tots which are easy to dip in your favorite sauces.

The Popcorn Chicken with Tater Tots is an awesome choice for lunch. The meal comes in a box that is full of food and the portion size is pretty big. The chicken is nicely painted in a batter with tasty tater tots as well. The chicken is rarely soggy and occasionally, you will open the box to a surprise side of barbecue sauce. This meal is perfect for a long day because you can get everything you need for a well-balanced meal.

After trying the food from the CEA, I can say that the food is nothing special and I won’t be running to the lunch line in any hurry. Nevertheless, the fact that it is free and some of the food is decent makes it a solid option if you want a quick and easy lunch.