By Courtney Tennill

his morning, I ate macaroni and cheese for breakfast. Out of the cooker. With the spoon I cooked with. And I washed it down with Diet Coke. Obviously I’m not a picky eater.

I’m also a fan of anything free, to the point that I’ll lug 50 pounds of dirty clothes home just so I don’t have to waste $10 in the dorm laundry room. So you’d think I would have been excited when I realized my academic scholarship just so happened to include a free meal plan.

Well, I was-until I ate in Powell.

The first week of my freshman year, I ate 10 meals a week in upstairs Powell, which was what my plan allotted. And at first, it seemed like a sweet arrangement.

They served burgers and fries almost every day. The pizza station was open for every meal. I got all the Diet Coke I wanted. And they even had unlimited ice cream.

But they kept serving burgers and fries and pizza every day. I quickly realized that if I didn’t want a hot dog, burger or some crappy re-make of my grandmother’s home cooking, I had no business in upstairs Powell.

And I ultimately decided that I wanted to live past the age of 40-so I stopped eating there.

Yeah, I kept getting the meal plan, mostly just for times when I had to eat on campus or when I wanted to use flex dollars. But I almost never used the meals-and I let hundreds of dollars in free food go to waste.

This semester, I thought that might change. I watched workers go in and out of Powell all summer, making sure the “renovation” of the Fresh Food Company was done by August.

And I hit up Powell as soon as school started, only to find that eating there is more pointless now than it was in the fall of 2005.

Yes, it looks better. I’ll admit that. But it would have been awesome if they’d squeezed in a few extra chairs with the strobe lights and fancy tiles. If you want to eat there between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m., you might as well set your tray on the floor. It’s quicker than waiting on a table.

Oh, wait, did I say tray? I meant plates. And glass. And silverware.

I care about the environment as much as the next person. But I find it ironic that we can’t have trays in the cafeteria when Eastern still burns coal for energy and buys university vehicles that get terrible gas mileage.

Those things are more of a problem than the hot water used to wash my tray.

By the time I’d waited in line at various food stations and gotten back to the table I snagged, I had three plates full of cold food.

It took another five minutes to make two trips to the conveyor belt when I finished eating.

From start to finish, it took an hour to eat lunch. In the same amount of time, I could make myself lunch I actually want in my room.

So that’s what I do.