Food deserts are a new phenomenon in the modern world. They are defined as regions of cities that are usually low income, underserved, and impoverished, and do not have access to healthy, fresh, and nutritious food. VCU and the area around it is a food desert. The options for fresh produce in this section of the city are more or less limited to Croutons, the salad bar at shafer, and kroger. Kroger even upcharges most of its produce too, so many students and residents of this area are unable to afford it. I think it’s incredibly ironic that a university like VCU that puts so much of an emphasis on learning and educating also does very little to give its students healthy, fresh, and nutritious options. The university’s dining service seems to only buy low quality produce that is closer to going bad than it should be.
A bigger issue that relates to this is the corporate lobbying to fill universities with junk food and fast food restaurants for profit. When I first came to VCU, i heard someone mention that it is a “pepsi campus”, meaning that everything here is a pepsi product or relates in some way to the Pepsi corporation. I imagine that there are also campuses that are like this for the Coca-Cola corporation, and personally, I think this is awful. Companies should not be profiting off of the health of students whose only options for food are limited to what they can get with fake money on their student IDs.
These two issues are part of why the “freshman 15” is such a big thing in the US, and it is almost like a right of passage for kids in america these days. Thankfully, it seems to skip over a lucky few, but the lack of nutrition in universities all across the country is not healthy for the next generation and something needs to change.