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Hit or Miss? I guess the food’s a miss, huh?

Like me, you probably pay thousands and thousands (and thousands) of dollars to attend Suffolk University. There are many perks and benefits of going here that I have discovered just over the past semester. But there are also some downsides, including our food options. That is not something I enjoy saying. 

If you are a freshman, then you likely eat at the Smith or Miller dining halls frequently, perhaps more than once a day. At Smith, most available food options are fried and/or cooked in oil. You can grab a burger, a cheese-steak, or even an 8-ounce steak if you really want. Most students choose to get chicken tenders and a side of fries at least a couple of nights a week. But what if you’re looking for something relatively healthier? Well, there is a salad bar. But the lettuce usually looks bad, and sometimes it is not even available. No matter what I get at Smith, I can never finish my meal. The portions are big, filling, and fatty. 

There are typically few healthy options for students, especially for vegetarians and vegans. Call us lazy, but the average student does not want to make the hike every night from Smith or Modern to go to Somerset to find better, healthier options. Somerset and Cafe 73 have some of the university’s healthiest and more diverse food options. I try to go to both as often as I can, because I really, really do not want to eat at Smith (even though it is much closer). 

Yet this is not a new problem. An article was published in our school’s very own publication
“The Suffolk Journal”, back in 2014, exploring this very same issue. And, well, it doesn’t appear that many things have changed. I’ve talked to many students, some friends included, who are not vegetarian or vegan, and yet they still feel as if the options are slim. 

Over time, you may have noticed that unhealthier foods are cheaper than healthier foods. For instance, a burger or chicken tenders are surely less expensive than ordering that night’s special, which may have a variety of proteins and vegetables. Because of this situation, students often feel compelled to choose a less healthy choice because it is less expensive. This iscalled food insecurity, and it is not just a problem here at Suffolk. To be clear, food insecurity is (in this context) when students have “limited or uncertain availability to healthy foods due to high costs, leading to a higher risk of malnutrition.” An article published in Medical Daily explores this very issue and the research and statistics behind it. In general, the research “revealed 59 percent of college students had food insecurities, or some concerns over accessing healthy food options.” That is a staggering percentage of college students. An overwhelming and worrying number. If you were to poll Suffolk students to determine the percentage of those who feel food insecure, the percentage would likely be different. It could be much lower, or even higher. Who knows? 

What I do know is that it is not easy to find students here who feel insecure about their food options. I generally overhear it in casual conversations or in discussions with my friends. It is great that Sodexo provides nutritional facts on most products they offer, but what’s the point if what they offer usually is not healthy in the first place? It is one thing to eat unhealthily every now and then, but it is another to eat like that each day. Food insecurity affects students all across the country, and there’s no exception here. Malnutrition regards not receiving a proper quantity of essential nutrients, proteins, and fiber, which is basically what we see from the food provided by Sodexo.  

I do not have the answers to this problem, but I do know that something needs to change in the near future–something that will beneficially contribute towards the well-being of the Suffolk student body. 

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