Home mission statement MCCRACKEN: U. Va. must provide more nutritious and affordable dining options – The Cavalier Daily

MCCRACKEN: U. Va. must provide more nutritious and affordable dining options – The Cavalier Daily


“Eat your vegetables” is a phrase we’ve heard since we were kids. And although your parents or your doctors may have disturbed you by repeating this saying, it is absolutely true. Vegetables to bring body with vitamins, fiber and other life-sustaining nutrients. And although some of these nutrients may come from other sources, it is often hard or expensive to get supplements in sufficient quantity to ensure the same benefits. In college, healthy eating is not only often expensive, it’s incredibly hard to find. Through advertising on the U.Va. Dining room website, he claims he is committed to “empowering you to make the healthy choices you seek,” as well as being passionate about “catering programs that make good eating easier.” After examining its practices, there is little evidence to support this mission statement. Simply put, much more needs to be done to ensure students can make healthy choices at little or no extra cost, and so far there is only minimal progress.

The University and its catering company, Aramark, took a monumental step towards healthy and sustainable eating on Grounds in 2019. Aramark chose to reinvent “the castle”, a restaurant option adjacent to Bonnycastle House on McCormick Road. The chateau has improved its dining options and earned itself a Green Restaurant Certification pursuing sustainable and increasingly plant-based practices and menu items. The reasoning behind this pivot was student demands for more nutritious foods that had vegetarian or vegan options. The University and Aramark have responded with this change to the castle, hoping to address concerns about the availability of plant-based and healthy options.

But with 18,000 undergraduates in the field and limited hours, the Castle is not ready to support the University’s commitment to restoration programs that facilitate healthy eating alone. And according to the University catering website, while all three dining venues have Green Restaurant certification, only two of the nine dining venues referred to as “restaurants” have this certification. Of course, there are other healthy eating options on Grounds. An extremely popular place is The Juice Laundry, a smoothie and juice that boasts Pitches at Newcomb Hall, the Aquatic and Fitness Center and an above-ground location on Preston Avenue. The stores assignment is to ensure transparency of their ingredients by listing them in large print and having an open and visible preparation area for customers. Some might ask – at what price? It’s definitely not pocket change to buy a bottle of juice at The Juice Laundry, with costs starting at around $11 a bottle. The University’s inclusion of The Juice Laundry in meal plans shows it can commit to empowering students to make healthy choices, but those choices come at a cost.

Not all restaurants in Grounds require money for their food. Students with a meal plan have the option of using meal ‘swaps’, which allow them to choose from pre-set menu options at no additional cost. But after reviewing the menus at each of these places, I find that healthy options are few and far between. To West Range Cafe, the two meal-swap choices that could be considered healthy — a salad and a Caesar wrap — often sell out in the middle of lunchtime. Other options are chicken tenders and fries, grilled cheese, or a NoBull burger — not exactly the most nutritious foods students might be looking for.

The reality of the situation remains that no matter where students live, they spend most of their time on the grounds and either have to pay an excessive amount of money, eat exclusively in dining halls, or go to a grocery store themselves. to obtain food containing fresh products. fruits and vegetables. Unless of course you want to eat at the Château every day of the week, but not on weekends, when the restaurant is closed. For freshmen without a car — or upperclassmen without meal plans — that means an even more complicated search for healthy options. It is impossible to notice a stark contradiction to the statement made on health and wellness on the University’s restaurant website. Does the University encourage students to eat well? When offering meal swap options that include fried foods or no vegetables, the answer is definitely no. As for the other part of the statement, the catering department says it is passionate about “catering programs that make eating well easy.” From the evidence reviewed, it is anything but easy to eat well while living on Grounds.

If the University wants to commit to its health and wellness mission statement, it need look no further than the current institutions. There is no need to build new restaurants, just take the same approach as at the castle and revamp its menus. With a mission and a method already in place, the University only has to see it through.

Ford McCracken is a point of view writer who writes about university administration for The Cavalier Daily. He can be reached at opinion@cavalierdaily.com.

The opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of The Cavalier Daily. The columns represent the opinions of the authors only.