Although the sometimes overflowing cafeteria can make it feel like everyone at Knox is there, many students avoid Knox dining entirely. At the beginning this year, sophomore apartment mates Tingting Huang and Sophie Zhou found themselves dissatisfied with the traditional cafeteria food. Living off campus, it was time consuming to walk back for every meal.
“We like the food, but it’s too much sometimes,” Zhou, an international student from China, said. “It’s way different from what we have at home.”
“We cannot finish all the meals in one term,” Huang said. “It’s kind of a waste of money for me.”
The two decided to go off board as well and became part of a number of Knox students who shop and cook for themselves. They bought cooking supplies from Wal-Mart and found other things from friends who were graduating seniors.
“We have a place to bake cakes, fridge … it’s like the same thing [as Hamblin],” Zhou said.
Zhou and Huang found themselves better off kitchen-wise than even some on board Knox students. Sophomore Emily Park found herself reluctant to cook very often despite having access to a kitchen in Williston Hall.
“It’s just really run down,” she said. “The oven doesn’t work very well. I don’t cook down there very often.”
Although they have to cook every day, Zhou and Huang enjoyed the variety of food they were able to make.
“Most of the time we cook Chinese food,” Zhou said. The two frequently cook such things as tomatoes with eggs, noodles, chicken soup and rice.
“We tried to make some typical American food, but it also tasted like Chinese food,” Huang said.
Other students went off board for health reasons. Senior Laura Mogilevsky went off board at the beginning of her junior year due to a gluten allergy. While the college had started selling things like gluten-free brownies and cookies, “I can’t really live off cookies,” Mogilevsky said.
Although one of Mogilevsky’s’ roommates is off board as well, she tends to cook mainly on her own since it can be complicated to keep gluten out of a meal. Her staples include stir fry, stuffed green peppers, various steamed vegetables and lots of pasta.
“Maybe once in a blue moon I’ll make a burger,” she said.
Because “gluten-free pasta tastes better not reheated,” Mogilevsky finds herself cooking nearly every single day. She has not had a problem accessing food, however, thanks to having a car on campus.
Huang and Zhou, without access to a vehicle, have to rely on stores like Dollar General that are within walking distance or pay the money for a taxi to Wal-Mart. Cornucopia Natural Foods and the Farmer’s Market are favorites for both as well.
Despite mainly cooking for themselves, both Huang and Zhou still find themselves — not infrequently — back in the cafeteria.
“My friends guest mealed me a lot because it’s hard to be away from friends. They wanted me to be here and talk to them,” Zhou said.
Huang and Zhou sometimes use their apartment for a similar purpose.
“[Cooking] is a social activity as well,” Zhou said. “My American friends taught me how to make a cake and cookies and I taught them how to make soup.”
Local places to shop
Off-board and desperate for sustenance? Here are some easy-access places for those in need of food. Access to a car not (always) required.
Cornucopia Natural Foods
Slightly higher priced but always delicious, Cornucopia sells natural and organic products and has a wide variety of vegetarian and vegan options. Located on Seminary Street — walking distance even in the winter — you’ll never want to buy bread or cheese anywhere else ever again.
Located on Main Street, Dollar General’s atmosphere is less than inspiring but they’re good in a pinch. No fresh produce, but they do have pots, pans and other cooking utensils for sale.
Cheap, plenty of variety, day-old bread for sale, reasonable produce and someone with a car always seems to be going. Potential drawbacks may arise depending on your political and economic beliefs.
Your traditional grocery store, Galesburg has two of these. If you need anything even slightly unusual (yeast, arugula), Hy-Vee is your best bet. However, expect to pay more money here than almost anyway else. Variety comes at a price.
It hurts the soul to pay cash for overpriced, on-campus food, but sometimes there is not any other option. They have very basic baking supplies and can usually be counted on for fresh eggs, milk and butter.
Bring a quarter for a shopping cart and your own shopping bag. The best prices in town (blackberries for 99 cents this month), but they never have the same thing in stock twice. Lacking in some basic things but abundant in things like frozen food, avocados and cheap cheese.