John Jay Dining Hall
John Jay Dining Hall is located on the first floor of John Jay Hall, a freshman residence hall. It is open Sunday to Thursday, 10:00am-1:30pm for brunch and 5pm-8pm for dinner. All first year students must have a meal plan, which they can use at John Jay.
John Jay has good vegan and vegetarian options as well as and edible kosher and halal options. Permanent food options include a salad bar, a pizza and pasta station, a desert station, and a sandwich station. Furthermore, there are also other dining options that change daily and for each meal: for example, cereal, waffles, and omelettes are available in the morning, but these are replaced by a grill and an action station (where a server prepares meals such as stir fry, burritos, or chili) for lunch and dinner.
John Jay is divided into three sections: the front dining hall, the kitchen in the middle, and the rear dining room (known as King's Table).
Until 2010, John Jay was Columbia's only full-service dining facility, in contrast to the many on-campus cafes. Despite its important role in (first-year) student life, the facility was unfortunately in very poor condition and long overdue for a renovation. The wood paneling in the main dining room had extensive damage and paint was flaking off the ceiling. The kitchen lacks an adequate ventilation system, resulting in suffocating heat in the summer.
In 2002, the Wall Street Journal rated John Jay 2/5 stars, saying, "Some of the nation's elite schools actually have some great food, but one Ivy League dining hall smelled like dirty dishwater. (OK, it was Columbia.)"
In 2013, it gained national attention for Nutellagate. One year later, Student-Worker Solidarity pushed to have the pizza ovens removed to lower kitchen temperatures. They were replaced with vegetarian sushi options.
John Jay Bagel Station
The John Jay Bagel Station was an attractive option for breakfast as it provided many options for bagel customization, such as flavored cream cheese and a wide variety of toppings suitable for any palate.
In Spring of 2020, the bagel station was replaced by the Smoothie Station. Now, students can enjoy freshly made fruit smoothies, but at what cost? Students must instead ask for clumps of smoked salmon to put on bagels spread with pre-packaged cream cheese before sitting down and reminiscing about a time when bagels had their own dedicated space in the dining hall.
- Actress Julia Stiles once caused controversy as a student by comparing workers in the dining hall to "mole people"
- Before 2008, when their use was discontinued, the trays used in the dining hall were filled with etchings containing witty sayings, and were often used as sleds in winter
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