My frustration with on- campus food options

Ciara Serpa, Assistant Advertising Manager

It’s the age-old trope about how food offered at any educational institution isn’t gourmet. As children, we watch TV shows where characters are forced to eat gray goo. We thank our lucky stars that this is all acting. But are we really as satisfied as we think we are?

Recently, a friend of mine and I were excited to buy fresh fruit from the Vitanza Commons in Spellman. When my friend showed me the receipt, I was shocked to see that she had unknowingly paid 15 dollars for each carton. The fruit was not organic; it was the regular size that one finds at Stop & Shop or Shoprite and it cost three times as much. The lack of signage contributed to our frustration. If she had known this was the price, she obviously would not have paid it. This got me thinking about how far our complaintswith dining services go.

As someone with a special diet, it can be hard to find food that alwaystastes good. If it’s not undercooked, it is dripping in oil. If it isn’t vegan, it probably doesn’t taste good or costs a lot of money. Due to medical conditions, I avoid red meats as they raise inflammation levels in the body. I also can’t eat greasy food since it causes digestive problems. I tend to eat the salads at Vitanza, and I am usually satisfied, although I worry when I see the food sitting out for a bit that is uncovered. Where does the food come from? What is the quality of the food that I am putting in my body?

The meal plan at Iona is also a source of tension among students. It is understandable that there is more money for the on-campus meal plan since the school and Chartwells are trying to make a profit. It’s hard to blame them completely. What is frustrating is the gap between the on-campus and off-campus allotments. If the school wants students to eat on campus more, which I can attest that we also would favor, Chartwells should try lowering prices and serving better quality food. When a student chooses to buy fresh fruit at Sage instead of Vitanza, it’s usually because it is fresher or because it is easier to see where it comes from, if it is organic and how it will affect our bodies.

Commuters and those who live off-campus always ask me how I can eat on campus all the time. I tell them the truth – that I avoid it unless I have to. I love talking to everyone who works in dining services, since they offer words of encouragement and push us to be our best. I just wish I enjoyed the food as much as I enjoy the company.