The Dining Hall at State University is bustling with kids in sweatshirts and pajama pants. The make-your-own Belgian waffle line is long and students are complaining about the lack of forks. Phrases like “I got wicked smashed last night,” and “I really need a cup of coffee” can be heard around the tables. It’s typical Sunday morning on campus.
It’s hard to find something healthy, nutritious, and tasty at the university’s dining halls. Students normally just go to the “caf” and choose whatever looks good to them, and the health effects really start to add up.
“That’s why I don’t have a meal plan,” said Jamie Cooper, a sophomore anthropology major. “Last year I gained 20 pounds. I was a vegetarian and I would load up on carbs and wouldn’t eat the vegetables because they wouldn’t look appetizing.”
The dining halls at Northeastern are managed by a company called Chartwells and not by the university itself. The dining hall offers a large selection of food, but the overwhelming majority of the food is starch and carbohydrates and loaded with fat. Chartwells keeps the menu on a bi-weekly rotation of choices.
Some dining selections are a constant option while other main dishes rotate. Students can always get burgers, hot dogs, grilled chicken, pizza, salad, and some sort of pasta in Stetson East. Stetson West, a dining hall only open on week days, offers brick oven pizza and stir-fry daily. In both dining halls an assortment of high in sugar cereals are always offered along with a selection of dessert, ice cream, soda, juice, milk, and coffee.
After constantly eating in the dining halls many students become disgruntled with the monotony of the food selection.
“When I first got here I though the caf was awesome but after three weeks I realized I was eating the same thing all the time,” said Cooper. “And if you’re a freshman you have no choice unless you are rich and can afford to eat out.”
For freshmen, this becomes a big issue. Freshmen students do not have a choice of where they get their food, usually the dining hall is their only option. Freshmen do not have the ability to prepare their own meals, due to the lack of culinary resources.
Chartwells does provide students with an options to eat healthier. They have created a program called the “Nurture Our World” in which they provide healthy eating choices to students. The program uses an icon posted near the food station to indicate a alternative food choices such as vegetarian, vegan, and kosher. However, this program isn’t known to most students. Chartwells does list their menus on their website (www.mycampusdining.com) which makes meal planning easier for students.
“Students tell me that even in the dining halls the choices of fruits and veggies are limited and the quality is often poor,” says Professor Ellen Glovsky of the Bouve College of Health and Science. “I would hope that the University would work with Chartwells to improve these conditions.”