5 May. 2017
In high school students are told what to study, wear, and . College is a place for many young adults to leave home, have academic freedom, and begin making their own decisions. For some young adults this is their first time really being away from home, and their first time experiencing the freedom of choice. One of those important choices being diet. Consider the VCU freshman. VCU may be known for its diversity, but it is not known for a wide variety of healthy food options on campus.
According to VCU’s website, there were 4,234 first-time freshman enrolled in fall of 2016. While these freshmen were not required to live in the dorms, it is highly suggested by the university. Within the majority of these dorms there aren’t any kitchens, forcing students to be required to purchase a meal plan. Many students who are not required to purchase a meal plan still do because their schedules are so hectic, and the easy access to fast food is convenient. VCU’s meal plans are expensive, inflexible, and required for all freshmen living in 60% of the offered dorms. The students that are required to purchase these meal plans only have three options, 200, 250, and 300 meal swipes, which are combined with dining dollars. These meal plans range from $1,844 to $2,242 per semester. Sam Isaacs, staff writer for the Commonwealth Times, writes, “Roughly 88,000 swipes go unused each semester at VCU, according to Tamara Highsmith, manager of VCU Dining Services. VCU doesn’t allow students to roll unused swipes into the next semester, which means at least $1 million in annual losses for students with meal plans”. This waste of student’s money is just the beginning of the problem.
VCU has very limited healthy eating options on and around campus that are associated with the meal plans. There are 23 dining locations that are associated with the meal plans offered. A few of these locations being Taco Bell, Chic-Fil-A, Panda Express, IHOP Express, Raising Canes, Pizza Hut, and Starbucks. According to VCU’s dining website, only five of these locations, 22%, are considered “eat well” options. Jordan Davis, student at Cornell University, writes,
The college years are ones in which lifetime eating habits can be, and generally are, formed. Unfortunately, away from home for the first time for many, students often see this transitional period as a time to divulge in unhealthy feasts featuring pizza, pastas, and all sorts of desserts. The change in lifestyle, including increased stress levels and new social surroundings, can lead students down a scary slippery slope of decreasing focus on nutritious eating. Students may be looking to (sub)consciously revolt, in a way, against the traditional eating habits that parents forced upon them for all the previous years. “No dessert until after you finish your veggies,” moms will often say.