Subpar food service denies right to healthy foods

A variety of pizzas in Dutch Hollow, one of many unhealthy options. (Katelyn Billings | Concordiensis)

When choosing a school, a prospective student considers many things. For most of us, class size and curriculum offerings are important. Many consider location, cost and extracurricular options when making their choice. I am not sure whether anyone considers food.

I do know that I, unfortunately, spent no time considering what food choices would be available to me for the four years I would be at college. Somehow, I don’t think that was unusual.

In hindsight, I find it both strange and naive that I spent no time on something so important.

Perhaps this was because many schools I visited offered me the option to try their cafeteria, and I found the food at those schools to be fine.

More likely, it never occurred to me that the food service would not include healthy appealing choices. I have been paying for this lack of attention daily, both literally and figuratively.

My first week at school I was treated to moldy blueberries, which was followed by an array of unhealthy and unappealing choices. Not a promising start.

When looking for healthy options, what I see are overcooked veggies drenched in butter and salt, vegetarian soup options that are often cream or starch-based, most of the proteins are fatty and/or prepared with too much butter or oil and served with a refined grain like pasta or white bread and while it is considered a healthy snack food, hummus and chips are not what I think of when someone says ‘vegetable.’

Yes, there is a salad bar option. Let’s talk about that. We live in Schenectady, and average temperatures for this time of year are normally between 15 and 30 degrees Fahrenheit. For a moment, I will skip the discussion about how salad should not be the only healthy option. It is cold outside. Is a hot healthy food option an unreasonable request?

It would be great if there could be a flavorful vegetable soup that was not laden with oil, butter, cream or starch. Some whole wheat or whole grain bread would also be nice. A vegetable side that was served sans butter would be welcome as well. And would it be too much trouble to offer an appetizing non-fatty meat option served with something other than a refined grain?

I know this is a small school, but I cannot be the only one who would like to see healthy and appealing food choices. Diversifying the menu at Union would impress potential students and would also improve the general atmosphere of dining. Students would be excited to go to dinner and would generally feel better with more healthy options.



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