Sub-par Snickers or Savory Soufflé? College Cuisine


Hayley Beluch

Artwork by Hayley Beluch ’18

Ramen. Dry cereal. Soggy green beans. Take out. If this is what comes to mind at the mention of college food, then you are amongst the majority. It’s not exactly glamorous, but it is extremely important to know the food flow of the place you might go.

While many factors should be considered, some of the most important include quality, types of food available, and what a school offers to those with dietary restrictions.

Across the nation, seniors are preparing to launch into college life, and they have mixed feelings about food. While some didn’t give a thought, others consider the cost and quality of cuisine at their selected schools. This is especially important to those with allergies and specific dietary restrictions.

Rutgers New Brunswick, a popular college among Eastern students, provides many different food options including pasta, stir fry, sushi, rotisserie chicken, salad bars, and desserts. The university also has many different vegetarian and vegan options in the dining halls.

For a fancier night out, Rutgers provides a student night at The Rutgers Club where students wear business casual attire and enjoy an upscale meal.

They serve 35,000 meals per day and students with meal plans eat two times a day at the college. The Dining Services also have a “text to order” program which ensures students with food allergies are getting a nutritious meal.

Hanny Ramadan, a former Eastern graduate and current student at Rutgers, doesn’t eat out as often. “I always miss my mom’s cooking,” Hanny commented, since he eats on campus more than at home.

Students often comment on the unhealthy aspect of college. Hanny says, “It is a lot harder to eat healthier on campus because the meal plan system allows for “All You Can Eat” style serving.”

“I was a vegetarian for some of sophomore year, and as much as this school advertises its vegetarian options, they are extremely lacking for most dinner services,” explained Karina Krul, a former Eastern student and current student at the University of New Haven. Krul isn’t the only one with this story.

The advocacy group, Food Allergy Research & Education, has spoken out about lacking college cuisine. Maria Acebal, a lawyer and spokeswoman for the organization, said, “By not accommodating food allergies, you’re barring students from participating in the university.”

Beyond allergies and restrictions, there is also the issue of general health. College students are proven to be poor

decision-makers, and schools are not concerned about how the food they endorse affects students. Despite many schools hiring registered dieticians, healthy options aren’t pushed enough.

Eastern Alumnus Alex Murphy said, “I personally think that we don’t have enough initiatives in terms of healthy food,” he added, “there’s a lot more in terms of junk food available, and I don’t think we push healthy initiatives for dining as much as we should.”

On the other hand, freedom to purchase your food where and when you want is another story. Being able to leave campus provides a variety of different food options.

Eastern graduate of 2016 Jakob Siegel is now a resident of Drexel University in Philadelphia. He said the entire campus is surrounded by restaurants. “Not only that,” he said, “but we also have a ‘Food truck row’ on campus that offers a huge variety of easy-to-go meals.”

Jakob is one of many college students who eats out more often than in. Additionally, his diet has expanded since college, even though his wallet has not.

Jakob explains that when he can, he tries to cook a meal with friends rather than have one out. “Even at cheaper places, like McDonald’s, food for four people would be about $25,” Jakob said, concluding that money adds up

over time.

Freshman at Rowan University and former Eastern student, Camila Espina, said, “College is a lot busier than high school. It’s a lot harder to eat healthy with a budget and a time restraint.”

Camila’s campus offers many different restaurants which include Dominos, Chickies & Petes, 7 Eleven, Pizza Hut, Peet’s Coffee and the dining halls.

She commented that the “dining halls have almost anything, very average food.” The dining halls cost $10 for an all-you-can-eat style. However, shouldn’t you be paying for quality and not quantity?

When staring at acceptance letters on the table, take into consideration not only what the school has to offer academically, but also health-wise. Schools should provide healthy options for students to grab on the go. This saves not only money, but pounds as well.

College cuisine is a larger topic than one might assume. Campus restaurants, meal plans, staying healthy, grabbing a bite but still being on time…there’s a lot to consider about college food, but it’s one of the more exciting parts of the college decisions.

As a college student, make sure you try everything on the menu. Food is more than easy microwave food: ramen, dry cereal, and soggy green beans.