DU students craving healthy food on campus

The "Healthy Options" board, located in DU's Nelson Dining Hall, depict what particular food options students can find. Photo by Jillian Queri

The “Healthy Options” board, located in DU’s Nelson Dining Hall, depict what particular food options students can find. Photo by Jillian Queri.

DENVER- A popular trend amongst millennials, healthy eating has been gaining momentum on college campuses, including the University of Denver (DU).

With three dining halls, three cafes and two convenience stores located across DU’s campus, students are provided with a variety of food options wherever they go, but not all of them are healthy.

Sodexo, DU’s food provider, has recently made strides in their food sourcing and dining options, even signing the “Real Food Challenge”, which shows Sodexo’s commitment to creating more sustainable, healthy and fair food options on campus.

Although student pursued initiatives like the Real Food Challenge have shown that DU and Sodexo are working towards a healthier campus atmosphere, many DU students feel differently about the food they eat on DU’s campus.

“I feel like all of the food options we have [on campus] are either processed or lacking nutritional value. There also isn’t enough options for fresh fruits and vegetables on campus,” said DU junior Amanda Kriss.

Kriss, who is gluten intolerant, said that eating on campus during her freshman and sophomore years was virtually impossible; there was rarely anything appetizing and gluten free for her to eat.

“Going to the C-Store, everything is junk food. It’s impossible to find something healthy to grab on the go. Then having a gluten allergy, it was hard to find anything to eat in the dining halls, too. It seemed like Sodexo didn’t care,” said Kriss.

Sodexo and its eating establishments, which includes campus Convenience Stores (C-Stores), dining halls and cafes, has announced that they have committed to using 12% “real food” by 2016, along with other initiatives like purchasing local produce when available. Even though these actions, which are advertised across campus, seem like positive and reassuring steps in the right direction, other students just like Kriss, still feel the need for more healthy eats on the Pioneer campus.

“Nagel Dining Hall is DU’s version of ‘fast-food’. I would love to see more places with healthy eating options because I feel like overall, the food that Sodexo provides is not that healthy,” said DU sophomore John Poe.

Nagel Dining Hall, which is centrally located on DU’s campus, opened a new dining option for students in 2015. “Simple Servings” creates selections for students with allergies or intolerances, making it the first location on campus dedicated to serving the student population who requires certain foods to meet their medical needs. 

Simple Servings, located in Nagel Hall, is the newest addition to the dining hall. Photo by Jillian Queri.

Simple Servings, located in Nagel Hall, is the newest addition to the dining hall. Photo by Jillian Queri.

Providing students with options like roasted chicken and vegetables, Simple Servings is the only campus food provider that prepares or sells considerably “healthy”, along with allergy safe, options. A first for Sodexo and DU’s campus, senior DU student Jaser Alsharhan agrees that food is improving on campus, but that there is still work to be done.

“I think that things have been changing and that we are on the right course of action in regards to food in our dining halls, but I also think there could be additional venues added that provide very healthy options for our students,” said Alsharhan.

Although Simple Servings shares a common dining area with other Sodexo vendors, like “Pioneer Pita” and “Salsa Rico”, it has yet to gain complete traction amongst Pioneers, steering away students who don’t have allergies and intolerances. Nonetheless, the option is still available, proving that Sodexo’s is trying to provide Denver’s students with more healthy and more desirable on-campus dining.

Grabbing a meal versus grabbing a snack creates a totally different dilemma for students.

Speeding across campus, students are limited to where they can stop for a quick snack and they are even more restricted when it comes to finding something healthy that’s can also be taken on the go. Compared to the dining halls, convenience stores provide students with practically no healthy options.

Stocked with walls of packaged goods, students often wander aimlessly through the campus convenience or C-Stores, picking up bags of chips or cans of soda in hopes of finding a healthy treat buried somewhere beneath all of the plastic and processed wrappings.

“The C-Stores are much less healthy than the dining halls. In the dining halls, for the most part, things are house-made. But in the C-Stores, everything is packaged,” said DU freshman Ali Brehm.

Described by Sodexo as stores that can “take care of all your snacking needs with everything from energy drinks to ice cream”, it’s clear that these stores aren’t focused on giving students healthy options like fruit and vegetables. 

Chips and junk food line the walls of the Johnson-Macfarlane C-Store. Photo by Jillian Queri.

Chips and junk food line the walls of the Johnson-Macfarlane C-Store. Photo by Jillian Queri.

As DU and its students continue to move into the future, food will always be a top priority, but it is unclear if a large, well known vendor like Sodexo will fully adjust its serving and sourcing practices to provide students with what they want and what they need; more healthy dining and snacking options on campus.

 “I just wish I could run into a dining hall or a C-Store at anytime of the day and grab a piece of fruit. That’s really all I want,” said Kriss.

One Response to DU students craving healthy food on campus

  • Anna Walsh
    Anna Walsh says:

    Jillian, this is a really important story. A lot of what you said, I agree with, and the rest just shocked me. I cannot believe that Sodexo uses 12% real food and the school is okay with this. I have never even heard of simple servings, and I really wish there would have been more food options such as that one when I was living on campus.

    It would have been great to walk into the C store or a stand or something on campus and grab a piece of fruit. If this were the case, I think that I would have been a lot happier and healthier my freshman and sophomore year. More stories like this one need to be written and published so this can change. DU prides itself on being such a happy and sustainable campus, but the healthy part is clearly lacking. Well written and interesting, thank you.

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