College life does not make it easy for us to keep our bodies and minds working in optimal condition. Students’ busy schedules can leave little time to get proper meals in, and they are constantly sleep deprived, stressed and mentally drained. When looking for sustenance, students often go for whatever is most convenient here on campus, and often those first available options are not always the healthiest choices.
The dining halls’ selections at meal times can be really hit or miss in this regard. At lunch, the sandwich bars and fruit and veggie spreads are usually a hallmark. The dinner selections usually involve pizza, meat, potatoes and pasta, with any vegetable dish usually being fried or cooked. And while those options aren’t necessarily unhealthy by themselves, without something from some less dense food groups to balance them out, consuming that for dinner all of the time probably isn’t great for the stomach. Students can miss out on some of those vitamins and minerals from that produce.
The campus convenience stores in Spit, Connelly and St. Mary’s aren’t much better in terms of their selections. Aside from the surprising variety of protein/granola bars, the shelves are mostly stocked with chips, cookies and candy, and the fridges with soda. While that stuff tastes good, constant consumption should not be encouraged.
Holy Grounds is slightly better, offering bananas and bagelss. Coffee does have health benefits when consumed without a bunch of added dairy and sweeteners, but the muffins, while scrumptious, might as well be cupcakes.
However, the late-night offerings might be the worst offenders. Whether students need some grub to fill their stomachs after a workout, get a bit peckish while grinding out some assignments or want to grab a quick bite after a game, there are not the most diverse of options. They often boil down to chicken strips, fries, mac n cheese and the like. While those do provide something to eat, I wish there was just as reliable an option that is not deep fried, with a smaller chance of giving me food poisoning. And it feels bad to scarf down a box of onion rings after spending an hour in the gym.
At home, I am a healthy eater. I tend to limit my intake of fried food and sweets, and whenever I return from breaks, I am constantly disappointed by the lack of healthy, convenient food available. And judging by how many different people I see at the gym every night, some others likely share my opinion.
So, I have some ideas.
Starting with the dining halls, having one of those stands with fruits and vegetables available for every meal period would be helpful. I imagine many of us are used to having those options with our meals at home, and it would make our meals more balanced.
Freshens should also have longer hours. I loved the availability of the premade ones in Sparket last year, and now that it and the Connelly locations have been renovated, I love grabbing a smoothie when available. They are quick, delicious, filling and nutritious. However, the hours of the locations are not great. It seems like they are barely open. At least they make some extra ones in the Sparket one to keep in the fridge for later, but the availability on main campus is laughable. Upperclassmen rarely want to trudge all the way to South Campus to get a smoothie. While it might not need to be open until 1 a.m. like the convenience stores, keeping Freshens open later into the evening would be greatly appreciated.
While the protein bar selection is a great start, make more room on those convenience store shelves for some better snack selections. Dried fruit is usually popular — maybe expand that selection? Or possibly add some more yogurt or parfaits? The same produce selection at meal times could even be repackaged into fruit or veggie cups. And maybe there could be some more sparkling water and tea instead of soda and energy drinks in the fridges.
Being in the intense environment of college, we do not get to treat our bodies with the utmost care all of the time, but I certainly think there is room to make getting proper nutrition a little easier.