More healthy, inexpensive options needed on campus
Students who come to the UA determined to lead a healthy lifestyle may have to pause and check their pocketbooks. Choosing healthy food options here is more expensive and more difficult than it should be at a university.
A Whopper at Burger King is $3.49, and upgrading to a small meal costs only $2.30 more. That low price buys you 1160 calories of greasy beef, salty fries and sugary soda, amounting to 50 grams of fat (with 12.5 grams of saturated fat and one gram of trans fat), 1460 mg of sodium and 64 grams of sugar.
In contrast, “food your body loves” comes at a high price. A hypothetical salad at Core with carrot shreds, cheddar cheese, croutons, cucumber and fat free ranch dressing would be approximately 250 calories, 11.4 grams of fat (6.4 grams saturated fat), 446.5 mg of sodium and 1.8 grams of sugar — obviously a healthier option, but you’ll have to cough up $6.75 for it. Adding protein costs another $1.25 to $2, and that doesn’t even include a drink or side like at Burger King.
The high price tags are keeping students away from healthy food and forcing them to make less health-conscious decisions.
“Personally, I like to keep a healthy regime,” said Lior Attias, a pre-neuroscience freshman. “If healthy food around campus was cheaper, it [would] be easier to do.”
For many students, choosing a low-calorie food option can hinge on monetary contributions from their parents.
Without the big bucks from parents, students often have to fall back on less-healthy choices at the Student Union Memorial Center.
“I get a whole pizza [from Papa John’s Pizza] because it’s cheaper,” said Avery Mickens, an engineering freshman.
Core is one of only two locations between the SUMC and Park Student Union that offers extensive nutritional information online — the other is IQ Fresh. Nothing at all is provided for the chain restaurants like Burger King, Panda Express, Einstein Bros Bagels, Papa John’s Pizza and Chick-fil-A. To find nutritional information on their food, you have to dig through each business’s separate website.
A complete listing of the health facts for restaurants unique to campus, like the Arizona Room, Cactus Grill, Canyon Coffee, Cellar Bistro, On Deck Deli, Pangea, Sabor, Bagel Talk, La Petite Patisserie and Park Avenue Dining is not available on the Arizona Student Unions’ website. Only a small handful of menu items are featured, which is hardly helpful. Canyon Coffee, for example, only posts that drip coffee and tea lattes have zero calories, fat, protein and carbohydrates, and fails to list other menu items.
The Arizona Student Unions’ website does say that an “in-depth online look at the nutrition information in each of our restaurants” is coming soon, but according to returning students, the website promised the same thing last year.
“As a vegan living on campus, it’s often difficult to identify foods I can eat versus foods I can’t eat,” said Jessie Marman, a sophomore studying pre-physiology and pre-visual communications. “Last year, I had initially gone to the website to find information, but there wasn’t really [any] available.”
Health should be a priority in college, not something extra to worry about on top of classes and tuition payments. Students should not have to sacrifice healthy choices because they’re afraid of breaking the budget with exorbitant prices or because they simply can’t find enough information on the foods they’re eating. After all, does the UA really want us all to gain the freshman 15?
Elizabeth Eaton is a freshman studying pre-journalism.