Response: healthy dining options come at a cost


Sometimes, in the middle of the night or early in the morning before dawn, the urge to go to Ratskeller or Dutch for food overwhelms my stomach.

Except, I can’t go these services because they are closed so I settle for a midnight snack that I’ve bought in preparation for a moment such as this. Now, while I would find the ability to have food whenever I want to be a great service, the practicability of having constant access to food of any variety has a cost.

Union is not directly responsible for Dining Services. In fact, most colleges and universities are not directly responsible for their own Dining Services.

They contract the service out to third parties and split a proportion of the income derived from their customers, in this case students, faculty and campus visitors.

Feeding the large body of campus everyday costs, a significant and hard at first to imagine sum. The United States government spends $2.37 per day on feeding the members of its prison population, not including the costs of labor.

When the costs of labor are added, the government spends an additional $1.74 per day per person.

Naturally, the customers of Union’s Dining Services spend more than this privilege to the fact its customers are not prisoners, though some of the more overly entitled members of this community might disagree to that statement. Dining Services needs to feed the entire community with foods the community desires. If they didn’t, their customers would not buy their product and both the college and Dining Services would lose money and waste food. Because we are given a choice in meals, Dining Services splits its costs based on the popularity of the food bought by their community.

Say for example, a few select vegans or vegetarians wanted healthier alternatives other than the soups and salad bar provided by Dining Services. Less than four percent of the population are vegetarians or vegans. So naturally Dining Service would spend about four percent of their budget on feeding them.

Luckily for vegetarians and vegans, some of the population enjoys some of these meal varieties so Dining Services can spend more than a measly four percent on serving these choices. But as our scenario requires this group of eaters wanting more variety, so say Dining Services spends half of its budget on serving them.

The College and the contractor running Dining Services would lose money. Not everyone would go for this new option, because they have other choices they prefer.

Dining Services would lose money on purchasing foods that would go uneaten, waste food that wasn’t eaten and deny the other members of the community the service that group is willing to pay for.

Two possibilities come to mind when fixing the problems that arises while still accommodating for the vegans and vegetarians, raise the prices on other food items, to balance out the loss suffered from the costs of the new options, or have the college subsidize Dining Services for these new options, which would mean raising the costs of tuition. Either way, the vegetarians and vegans would have other people paying for these new options whether others want them or not.

The price of food has never been lower in society but not all foods are the same price. The oils and starches the vegetarians and vegans may rave against are added to these soups because otherwise the costs of the soup would become unaffordable. Fresh fruits and vegetables cost money, especially if they’re organic.

Not everyone in this school can afford to add money to their declining when they run out. The people of this school who want healthier options need to think about the consequences of the policies they want Dining Services to pursue.

Tell the students here who can’t afford that extra cost that you’re willing to let them go hungry once their declining runs out or everyone else you’re willing to raise the costs of tuition so you can have the ability to eat your expensive foods.

Costs affect the environment as well, not just other students. Fresh fruits and vegetables don’t last very long, or any fresh food for that matter, even with preservatives added, so Dining Services purchases an amount based on what is served to and bought by its customers. It’s more cost effective for them to make one dish with the same ingredients than ten meals with the same ingredients.

Adding more alternatives is costlier and considering that during the New York winter it isn’t easy to grow affordable vegetables, Dining Services purchases food primarily grown in warmer climates like California, Mexico and Florida to name a few, while meat is more easily acquired locally.

The environment benefits the most when humans eat local food. Vegetarians and vegans in cold climates harm the environment when they demand fresh foods.

So if you fall under this select group of those who want different food options, I applaud you for your choices and opinions. I respect your desires.

Unfortunately, the universe doesn’t run by the rules humanity tries to dictate. Everything has a cost, whether it’s the time, labor\ or resources that go into producing something.

Who wouldn’t want to see people given the choice to eat what they want when they want to in a perfect world?

Unfortunately for humanity, the universe doesn’t care for humanity’s desires any more than an apple cares how well it tastes.



  1. Can someone please write a response to this article that highlights all the costs we students will incure from heart disease, diabetes, and cancer after eating the food that Union’s dining services provide? Healthy food is an investment. It increases productivity, brain function, and decreases future health risks. Union prides itself on nourishing its students’ minds with its academics but poisons our bodies with its food.

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