Exploring food culture at Iona


@chiaracelini_art on Instagram

The dining halls aren’t enough to keep the entire Gael community fed.

Tiffany Persaud, Features & Lifestyle Editor

The Mirage, Crotty’s Cheesesteaks, North Avenue Deli, Beechmont Tavern, Chicken Joes … do you feel hungry yet? You’re now imagining how an overstuffed hero would hit the spot.  

The food culture in Iona’s community seems endless. Students can either make food at home or use their meal plan to buy from the restaurants surrounding campus and the Spellman or LaPenta dining halls. Both can get costly for those on budget.  

Senior Kennedy Blackwell relies on snacking to upkeep her energy. Bustling around campus is a workout, so a bag of chips or some fruit can prevent hunger and the embarrassment of hearing your tummy growl in class.  

“I usually try to bring snacks from home and eat them throughout the day,” Blackwell said. “If I don’t have enough time to pack food with me, though, I usually will either go to Starbucks or North Avenue Deli.”  

Meal prepping is popular these days, especially amongst college kids and fitness enthusiasts. If you make and store your lunches and dinners before the week begins, a lot of time would be saved that students could allocate towards other priorities. 

“Packing myself food is cheaper and more convenient, but it takes time to prep,” Blackwell said. “Eating out and buying food is quick and easy, but I try not to do it often because the costs add up quick.”  

Senior Mackenzie Byrne finds herself mindlessly scrolling through cooking videos on social media. Given her busy schedule, it’s difficult to put those recipes to the test. 

“I tend to cook at least two times a week,” Byrne said. “On Monday me and my roommates will go to the nearest Stop and Shop or Shop Rite since they have cars on campus,” said Byrne. “We get what we need for the week to make dinner.” 

Nothing can beat mom’s cooking, yet Byrne attempts to replicate home cooking to feel nostalgic when she misses walking home to the smell of a warm meal.  

“Sometimes it is cheaper to cook since you will have leftovers to eat for the rest of the week instead of buying dinner from a restaurant,” Byrne said. “I like to cook because it reminds me of home and gives me a chance to get fresh produce into my diet.”  

Dining halls are known to be a part of college culture, but more so for residents than commuters. Many commuters do not have meal plans/meal cards.  

Senior Erica Diaz has only been inside a dining hall twice within her three years at Iona. She doesn’t purposely avoid dining hall food, but she prefers to arise extra early to spread multiple layers of cream cheese on her bagels.   

“I choose to prepare my lunch at home before heading to campus,” Diaz said. “I have been to the dining halls a few times with friends and have noticed that they offer many food options.”   

Commuters likely have back-to-back classes to shorten their break times on campus. So, that leaves only the given break hour from 12-1 to eat, socialize and catch up on homework. For students like Diaz, a simple lunch suffices.  

“However, it is more convenient to eat my own lunch in between classes, especially since I do not have that much time to sit down and eat, Diaz said.  “It is also cheaper to bring my own lunch instead of buying from the places on or around campus.”  

Buying groceries in bulk at stores like Costco or BJ’s – which are both a 10–15-minute drive from campus – is ideal but it may seem daunting to haul up groceries when you’re living in a dorm. Nonetheless, not all suitemates share the same tastes. So, Fairway might be a better grocer option. Couponing is also encouraged to accrue a chunk of savings after each grocery haul.  

Iona College is lucky to have small businesses surrounding campuses that can cure any craving a student might have. In the future, there are hopes of adding more bars and cultural restaurants along and adjacent to North Avenue.