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Straight from print: The University must examine its role in the food students are consuming

Straight from print: The University must examine its role in the food students are consuming

This article originally appeared in The Eagle’s December 9 special edition.

The typical AU student lives a busy schedule. Whether they are juggling a full course load of classes, an internship, a job and extracurricular activities, they are always on the go. The non-stop action of an AU student’s day often inhibits them from putting thought into the nutritional benefits of what they will eat for their meals. Although the University offers students several dining options, only Freshii and the Terrace Dining Room (TDR) offer more than empty calories.

The new schedule of classes, beginning at 8:10 a.m. at the earliest and 8:20 p.m. at the latest, frequently keeps students from sitting down and enjoying a meal at a typical hour. TDR, the location with the highest variety of options and nutritional benefit, has limited hours and its food options are often ambiguous. While there is an online menu designating what entrees will be served, it is not always accurate.

Additionally, ‘light fare’ food options (a lack of entrees outside of main dining hours) keep many students from getting their money’s worth for their $10-12 meal swipes. Furthermore, hours of operation is not only an issue with TDR. Freshii has also been an offender this semester, sporadically closing at 4 p.m. or ceasing to be open at all for no discernable reason.

We at The Eagle believe that students should be able to have accessible food options that are also nutritious. The University’s contracted food vendors essentially have a captive audience, especially with the requirement for freshmen and sophomores to purchase substantial meal plans. This requirement makes it imperative that the University holds its food vendors to the highest standard possible, ensuring that their products are of high quality and easily available to students.

We also recognize that many students are not knowledgeable about nutrition on an individual level. Although TDR offers many fruits and vegetables, it is far too easy to simply grab a plate of fries and pizza and call it a day. Nevertheless, whether students are eating on campus or are living off campus and cooking for themselves, many need guidance in choosing the healthiest options possible. We hope the University will take greater steps to ensure that students have the tools and information to make informed decisions about what they eat.

Living a healthy lifestyle is difficult when there are numerous stressors and commitments during the day that force meals to be chosen by convenience of access. Few students have the privilege of being able to sit down and focus on what they are eating and make the conscious decision to commit to a balanced plate. Financial constraints also often keep students from being able to choose food that is filling and nutritious. It is imperative for the University to not only offer more nutritious options that are accessible to all students, but also educate students on how to incorporate more healthy eating practices into their lives.

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