My VERY rough draft/outline


Main Claim: Consider the VCU freshman./ relate that to college students big picture

Introduction: Begin with transition from high school to college discussing the freedom that student’s experience. One of those freedoms being the choice of diet.

Sub claim #1: There are limited cooking options/ no kitchens in the majority of freshman dorms at VCU


-6/10 Freshman Dorms require a meal plan

Sub Claim #2: There are limited healthy options on/ around campus that are associated with the meal plans.

Only 5 of these are under the “eat well” tab = 22% VCU Considers “healthy”

  • 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.
  • Dorm rooms are littered with all sorts of candy, chips and other highly sugared foods, not to mention an abundance of soda and unhealthy drinks. According to a study of college students, the average number of calories found in the food contents of students’ dorm rooms was a whopping 22,888 (Nelson, Story) .

Sub Claim #3: VCU’s meal plans are expensive, inflexible, and required for all freshman living in 60% of the offered dorms.


-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.

  • Undergraduate students who live in university housing (other than students living in university apartments) are required to choose a meal plan. Block plans allow a specific number of meals per semester and are available in 200-, 250- and 300-meal levels, combined with Dining Dollars.

300 Swipes + 100 Dining Dollars $2,242*

250 Swipes + 300 Dining Dollars $2,175*

250 Swipes + 175 Dining Dollars $2,050*

200 Swipes + 300 Dining Dollars $1,994*

200 Swipes + 150 Dining Dollars $1,844*

-Few campus dining facilities are open late at night, causing the healthier options to be inaccessible to the students. So students will often resort to food that is fast, convenient, and often calorie dense foods high in fat and sodium.

-On average, first year college students gain about 3.86lbs.17 Although this certainly is no 15lbs as indicated by the “freshman fifteen,” the rapid changes in weight experienced by first 3 year college students provide implications about their health behaviors, and more importantly their eating habits. Nutritionally, many students fail to meet the national guidelines and goals of Healthy People 2020.

-Some of the most common obstacles students talk about when trying to eat healthy involve both environmental and social influences.5 The diet of college students is strongly influenced by common environmental factors such as time management/schedule, accessibility of foods, and location of eateries.

-Students who have a meal plan do not see this as a barrier as much as those who do not have a meal plan, so as long as the meal plan includes options such as fruits and vegetables. Locations of eateries on campus are an important barrier to consider as well because it is likely that a student will eat at the closest dining facility, which may or may not have healthy options.

-Lastly, another barrier to consider that may not be considered an environmental or social influence but is perhaps an easier barrier to change, would be the lack of knowledge about nutrition. Students who eat healthier often display more knowledge about current national dietary recommendations.

According to Penn State nutrition instructor, Dr. Alison Borkowska, overwhelming schedules can be a major reason for students’ bad eating habits. “They’re encountering levels of stress and scheduling that they’ve never experienced before,” she said. “They’ve never had this many things to be responsible for, including putting food in their mouths.”

“There’s a huge adjustment that takes place when students leave home and come to college,” added Dr. Rebecca Corwin, an associate professor of nutritional sciences and neuroscience. “It’s a very stressful and vulnerable time.”

-If you do not eat in the dining hall almost every other option on campus is fast food, which if you are eating every meal on campus is not ideal.

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