You had a long night of studying so you decide to snooze your alarm to get a few more minutes of rest in. But now it's 7:45 and you're racing to get ready for your 8 a.m., yet somehow make it out the door with 5 minutes to spare.
You weren't able to nab any breakfast, so your stomach is basically ready to eat itself once lunch rolls around. You arrive at the dining hall, and you sigh at the options like you do every day. You can have a salad again. But you're too hungry for that.
Maybe some of –– wait what even is that? Pork? Chicken? Does anyone know? Um, how about a hamburger? No, you just had that yesterday for dinner. Pizza? You'd rather not subject yourself to all the grease, and plus, it tastes like cardboard. Cereal it is, then. Maybe it'll be better for dinner...
This is the cycle I, as well as so many other college students across the nation, go through every week on campus. Most of us are taking between 14 and 20 credit hours worth of classes. That, compiled with study-time, jobs, internships, volunteer work, athletic competition, clubs and all the other obligations associated with the diverse student population, we need our nutrition not only to function and for our general well-being but to properly carry out these many obligations to the best of our ability.
And quite frankly, we're being let down by those who are supposed to supply us with this necessary fuel.
Now, let me take a step back. Imagine all the young adults in the world. We are within the small percentage who have the privilege of attending college, let alone having access to bountiful amounts of food. With all the amenities college life brings, we should all be grateful that food is available to us on campus. In addition, think about how easily accessible the food is. The dining hall is so convenient. Whether it's before class, after a workout or a reliever after a long day, any student (and faculty member) can have a meal from the dining hall throughout the day. There's no need to worry about preparing meals yourself.
Yet, like most things in life, we've gotta produce some cash. The prices for meal plans are outrageously high compared to the satisfaction actually achieved by the consumption of the food. The income of college students ranges from very little to none, so this means we rely heavily on our parents and/or scholarships to help with expenses. If a student attends college for a span of 4 years or more, they're looking at $8,000+ on meal plans alone, and that's only at my university.
Think about other colleges who charge much more. And for what? Sub-par food that students feel hungry again after 2 hours? This is not okay. Therefore, because the dining hall food is not satisfying us, many will turn to other options such as fast food nearby. These options aren't healthy either. We even have to waste gas money to reach these places.
One may argue that students can easily cook themselves since residence halls have kitchens available. While this is true, how many young adults actually know how to cook? Or the better question is how many actually have thetime to cook themselves a hearty meal? Yes, we can buy a mini fridge and stock it with mom's leftovers from the weekend and fruit we bought from Walmart. But there's only so much Ramen noodles and microwavable soups we can handle before we go nuts. Living out of the microwave or on packaged food is simply unhealthy.
One may also argue that there are plenty of options to choose from at the dining hall. Yet once again, this also proves to be a disappointment. There's the pizza line, the hot line, the salad bar, the grill and the cereal bar. And for breakfast, there's fake powdered eggs, chips in substitution for potatoes and hard, tasteless biscuits. Who wants to guess at what kind of mystery meat is on the menu today? Fatty beef or pink chicken is not at all appetizing or safe to eat. Where's the flavor? Most things are overcooked, boiled to death, grease-ridden or doused with sugar. And good luck having a well-balanced meal if you're vegetarian. It's rare students actually come across something decent we'd want to come back for seconds. And if there is, it's probably a dessert or something that'll never be served again. What kind of system is this?
We are all trying to worry about our education: making sure fee deadlines are met, our grades are in check and doing what we need to do to get that degree. This is all in addition to maintaining a social life and taking care of ourselves. Yet, it's very difficult when we're not eating healthy. The Presidents of universities must consider what they're looking at here. If they expect to produce quality leaders and professionals, then they sure as hell better know we expect them to serve us quality, sustainable food. It's basic logic: we are what we eat.