There's a glow coming from the Cougareat and your feet are moving into the mist with the crowd, as if you have no choice but to retreat. The closer you get, the brighter the array of neon signs, and the smell of something delicious hits your sense of smell harder than ever. A bent corner and an alley of delicious fast food restaurants lie at your feet, planted right here on your school campus.
High school dream come true.
The weeks fly by and the luxury of these tasty eating places keeps you ecstatic, charging you to keep your meal plan card constantly swiped. “A whole freshman year”, you think, “with my favorite food at your fingertips”.
The school keeps moving forward and suddenly things seem different. A depressed original emotion. Stepping through the gates of the Wilkinson Student Center off your well-trodden route, you realize it was those fairy lights that faded, the calories that added, and the crunchy new things that ultimately became stale.
Just when you thought college life couldn't get any heavier, the limits of your meal plan keep you trapped in an endless cycle of sore eyes, an attempt to escape knee-deep fat, and the daily activities of less-than-appetizing eating. keep you up to date with your college needs.
A year of unrelenting thoughts about food swirl through the mind of a BYU freshman, three times a day, seven days a week. You get tired when there are so few options for daily meals, especially when one of those days (Sunday) is limited to only one option: the Cannon Center, or the freshman food center for unlimited sodium-packed foods. and sugar accompanied by canned. produce.
The University rules that "students living at Helaman Halls are required to purchase a meal plan." With only a shared bedroom, communal bathrooms, and a forgotten kitchen in the basement, the first-year students living in Helaman Halls tend to eat their daily meals in the cafes provided by the schools. These fast food restaurants; Chick-fil-A, Subway, Taco Bell, and Jamba Juice, to name a few, are what most BYU freshmen (including me) consume to succumb to hunger. It's a treat for those who live off campus because of their excitement at finally eating some greasy fast food instead of their daily PB&J. They buy their lunch on campus only once a week, whereas for freshmen, this is their main source of food.
An aid to this dilemma comes in the form of BYU Creamery. Modeled after a mini grocery store, many students find relief from the lack of variation and quality of available meals by purchasing more core and in-store items. High prices are a downfall for the dairy, but this is not necessarily a problem. The cost of BYU's typical meal plan is $2,425 per semester, about $5,000 per year, according to the University's meal plan website. A student is allocated $14 per day, with what is not spent being carried over to the next day. Many students find themselves with excess money due to spending less than the budgeted daily salary. Although annoying, spending a little more on better food is "effortless" because insufficient funds are rarely an issue. However, what becomes a problem is when extra money is spent on products that are not worth the price. The Creamery has a full produce section with a diverse selection of fruits and vegetables, but these produce can be found for sale while it's already dirty, and tends to ripen faster. Many don't finish or throw away food early because of this. This is a waste of food and a waste of student money. This type of quality food seems to be trending across campus, so while not the freshest, the Creamery's variety of items is more preferred than what's available on the rest of campus.
These accusations are made according to colleagues and friends who eat all their meals on campus and claim that some of the so-called "fresh" items are not really that fresh. This fight seems to be shared among all available restaurants, not just grocery stores, and one simply cannot ignore the opinion of those who are directly affected by these provisions on a daily basis. Because BYU's food service's number one problem is food quality, this perpetuates and makes the limited variation between food types now an additional problem as well. Although there aren't many, there are some less "fast food" options within the realm of campus food, but they are sporadically spread out in the eating areas and certainly have far fewer options to choose from than the rest.
With no more varied options from the occasional meaty restaurant, eating the same “chicken and rice” entices students to choose fast food instead, perpetuating those unhealthy eating habits without hesitating.
In my opinion, of all the food options, BYU Creamery is the best option to eat, but I hardly go once a week. This is because the Creamery, along with many of the other food options provided by the school, can be found on the outskirts of campus. They feel out of reach and are no longer an option for a quick grab-and-go meal to get students back on their schoolwork. To be more specific, BYU Creamery is 1 mile from the Helaman Hall dorms, about a 20 minute walk. The Wilkinson Center, which has the most ready-to-eat options, is 0.7 miles from the dorms, a 16-minute walk. The BYU Art Museum Cafe (my next go-to for a healthy option) is 0.5 miles away and a 12 minute walk. Attending classes makes these durations less in number, but walking across campus is a daily routine for most and it doesn't help that a simple, nutritious meal isn't within the flow of traffic. Of course, since there are closer options specifically for Helaman Halls residents, such as the Cannon Center, personal experience of dining at such places has made them unavailable to me as an option. Lack of hygiene, variety, whole ingredients and freshness can be blamed for this.
Little can be done when the statement of a problem is the only action taken. So what can be done? Changing locations, for starters, is a great way to simply make food more accessible. Building restaurants in more accessible and exposed buildings creates easier and more available shopping. If nothing more than this action were taken, many more with a meal plan would be happy. Some aren't necessarily that picky when it comes to eating and while they aren't that healthy, they could happily live strictly on fast food.
Adding variety would be the next step in creating a better future for campus life. This includes more restaurant storefronts with better and more diverse options, which eliminates the fear of disappointing lovers of a certain fast food. As for snacks, the sweets and candies in current vending machines could be accompanied by more protein and less fatty snacks. Perhaps a "fruit machine" could also be implemented to add more nutritional variation. When enough money is available, a little more variety never hurt anyone.
Trading neglected fast food restaurants for heartier ones keeps us healthier. While fast food in moderation is acknowledged to be good, anyone could tell you that it's not the best everyday option for health. Also, finding different sources of more sanitized whole foods and produce would go a long way in narrowing the list of freshness concerns.
Student health must be a priority, and one way that student health is reflected is the food available on campus. College students have a specific need for affordable foods that fuel the body and mind, and when they're on a meal plan, all of that should be provided for them. Do you want happier and healthier students? Create an environment where they feel their needs are prioritized.