By Lily Sperber
What happens when the best tasting (and most common) foods also happen to be the unhealthiest? Many Purchase students are candid about their dislike of the food, including sophomore Fiona Matsen, who said, “They should have healthier foods that don’t suck. The salads are always gross.”
A 2013 research study published by the American Journal of Health Promotion regarding two Minnesota colleges showed that about 45 percent of students bought food or beverages from at least one campus dining area three or more times per week. Many of the available options at these dining areas were also energy-dense, like that of fast food.
This is also the case with all three of the main dining areas at Purchase. Most students, whether lower or upperclassmen, have less than positive views about the food.
“It was disappointing,” said freshman Raven Parham, who has only eaten the food once. “Like, I could eat it, the name sounds good, but I didn’t think the chicken was going to be like something I had in high school.”
Sophomore Nyia Ford said, “I look at it like fast food, just burgers, fries, stuff like that. Nothing nutritious at all.”
Other students have much stronger opinions about the food, that have implications which reach far beyond its fast-food like nature.
“I hate the food on campus,” said junior journalism major, Colin Shellard. “I think Purchase has this idea that students should eat healthy, but it’s hard, especially for those who don’t have apartments here or access to a kitchen. The food’s unhealthy, and I think that what they consider a meal, six dollars, is kind of absurd because they overcharge everything.”
Despite their dislike of the food, some students are unfazed by it and accept it as something that comes with the territory of being a college student.
“It’s fine, you know, it’s what you’d expect,” said junior playwriting and screenwriting major, Connor McGinty. “To be honest, I’m not blown away by it, but I don’t expect anything too much better. Sometimes it feels like I’m eating the same thing every day, but there’s not really much they can do about that.”
“One of the biggest requests we get are for healthier options,” said Ian Mungo, senior director of dining services. “Do you know what the most popular thing we sell is? Chicken tenders, French fries, hamburgers, taco stuff, candy, and soft drinks. So contrary to popular belief, the request is for healthier options, however, what we sell the most of is not.”
Many students realize the unhealthy nature of the food on campus and are quick to avoid it, while others eat it eagerly, accepting the fast-food-like nature of it. No matter which category you fit into, an overabundance of fatty and high caloric foods, especially in college, can lead to bad eating habits in the long term, as well as negative mental and emotional effects.
An article by SA Health, South Australia’s government health agency, said that bad nutrition can lead to a number of undesirable outcomes, including being overweight or obese, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, type-2 diabetes, and depression.
When students are surrounded by primarily unhealthy options, such as triple cheeseburgers and meat lover’s pizza, which are made to serve quickly to many students, the food they consume has the potential to affect them in other physical ways, which can do far more than just fill their stomachs.
“I feel like when I used to go to the Dining Hall, I used to get a lot of stomach pains, actually,” said McGinty. “I don’t know if that was related, but I think I’ve heard of other cases of people saying something similar, but I don’t know what that’s about really.”
Shellard added to this, saying, “One time I went to the Hub, got a sandwich, and I was sick for a week. Maybe I got food poisoning from eating the sandwich, but who knows.”
Sarah Kimmel, a junior communications major, has an idea for how the food served in dining areas can be improved to suit a more diverse group of students with healthy eating in mind.
“I think that more of a variety of options for all students with different ways of eating, especially for vegetarians, vegans, people who just want to eat right, would be great,” Kimmel said. “They were supposed to do renovations to change the dining facilities anyway, so I hope they take place.”
According to Mungo and Andrew Castellon, director of the Hub, they will be, hopefully over the summer of 2019. This would mainly affect the Hub, which would be expanded with similar food options, and changes to the way food is ordered and purchased, as well as to the overall design. Some food areas within the Hub will be moved around or added to, with renovations focusing primarily on reorganizing the décor of the Hub.
An Einstein Bagel is also on the way, which will sell bagels, sandwiches, salads, and coffee, and will be located across from the bookstore on the main plaza. It will help cater to students and faculty with classes on the other end of campus, such as in the dance, visual arts, and music buildings.
On another note, research shows that students and young adults who cook their own food are more nutritionally balanced than those who eat at restaurants or dining areas on college campuses.
“I don’t eat food on campus, except for Starbucks,” said Kimmel. “I used to eat on campus, but there were no healthy options. I’m a fairly healthy person, so it was very difficult to find options that worked for me.”
Castellon said that students should feel free to speak with any of the managers of the dining areas about their concerns or thoughts about the foods offered.
“We’re always available,” Castellon said. “If there’s an issue or something you want to share, best thing to do is come see us face to face and we can handle it right then and there.”