Before coming to college, Jada Hampton said she only ate organic food.
The freshman theatre arts major said she planned to continue her eating lifestyle at college by cooking “simple homemade” meals in her apartment.
Hampton used the Residence Life Community Center as her source of weekly groceries, due to her lack of personal transportation.
“I couldn’t find anything organic,” Hampton said.
Hampton said the prices of the food at the Residence Life Community Center “discourage” her from buying groceries and making her own food.
“I eat Chick-Fil-A pretty much every day,” Hampton said. “I miss the food I used to eat.”
Hampton is just one example of a student who feels disappointed by the choices of food on campus. Chick-Fil-A and Steak n’ Shake are the most popular and affordable dining locations, causing students trade healthy food choices for convenience.
Executive Chef Robert Fruit said Sodexo constantly balances what foods they offer based on what students want to eat and what students should be eating.
“Students have to want the healthy foods and utilize them,” Fruits said. “If they sit on a shelf and mold, it is not cost effective for us to keep putting them on the shelf.”
Fruit said he understands how important balanced nutrition is for the academic success of students.
“We know what students eat affects their ability to function, study, and perform their best,” Fruits said.
Fruits said the university encourages students to have a meal plan.
“With the meal plan they have access to The Loft, which is the most healthful option available to students,” Fruits said.
However, for students who do not have a meal plan, finding affordable options proves to be difficult.
Tharu Wattewewa said the Residence Life Community Center does not have the variety of fruits and vegetables she needs to cook with.
“The (Residence Life Community Center) does not have vegetables like eggplants, cabbage or okra,” the French and international studies junior from Sri Lanka said. “They do not have fruits like mangos or kiwis.”
Wattewewa said the main reason she cooks her meals at home is to save money.
“If food was cheaper on campus I would eat there more often,” Wattewewa said.
Rebecca Diamond, Operations Manager of Food Services, said students who have concerns about the food on campus should contact them.
“If a student has dietary restrictions we will do anything we can to meet those needs,” Diamond said. “We have gone to Schnucks to buy sunflower butter before for a single student who was vegetarian and couldn’t eat normal peanut butter.”
Diamond said Sodexo is always open to hearing feedback from students about the food.
“We have a feedback form on our website,” Diamond said. “If there is something a student wants we will see if there is enough interest on campus to start selling it.”
Diamond said Sodexo compares the price of food sold on campus to street prices every summer.
“What you find on campus is comparable or competitive to what you would find anywhere else,” Diamond said.
Diamond said if students have issues with the food options on campus, Sodexo wants to hear about them.
“We don’t want students to think we don’t care about their complaints,” Diamond said. “We never want students to think it’s not something we want to fix.”
Hampton said she feels there is an overall complacency for the conditions of the food on campus.
“People might complain, but not many care enough to try and change the ways things are,” Hampton said. “Places like Steak n’ Shake and Chick-Fil-A are convenient, and their food tastes good.”
Hampton said a better selection of healthy foods would benefit the university.
“Students are going to accept conditions, whatever they are,” Hampton said. “Whether it is good or bad, students will eat the food that is offered to them.”