Bring nutritious options to Commons

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Bring nutritious options to Commons

Aaron Weiner, Staff Writer

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Look, I get it; we are in college and this is not the place that you come to when you are trying to lose weight. There is a reason that the term “freshman 15” is so popular among incoming college students. This is in large part since students are surrounded by food that can be heavy, and all you can eat. Here is my question: why does it have to be this way? Why can’t it be the “freshman zero?” Or even the freshman “negative five,” if that is what you want to achieve. So, what do I propose that dining services does about this? Not much; all I’m asking for is a simple tweak in options at the University of Hartford.

There are currently 11 different food options that UHart students can choose from at Commons: entrée, vegan, deli, kosher, sauté, grill, small plates, oven, salad bar, soup, and the bakery. While this may seem like plenty of options, I believe that it would be better for all students if there was one more option that we could choose from. What the dining hall at the University of Hartford needs is a food station that offers only organic, non-processed, and healthy foods. Having organic food at the very least should be an option for students. I am someone who learned firsthand the importance of eating healthy food, and how it can affect us.

In the beginning of May of 2019, I was starting to feel unhappy about my weight and thought it was time to do something about it. It is important to note that my mother eats incredibly healthily, almost excessively healthily. I told my mom that I wanted to eat how she ate, without understanding how tough following her diet would be. She had me sign up for this program called “Will Powered” which isn’t necessarily a weight loss program, but more of healthy lifestyle program. I signed up for this program and within the first two weeks I hated it. I missed eating cookies, ice cream, fries, and burgers and didn’t enjoy all these new foods that I was eating. I won’t get into the nitty gritty details of everything this program consisted of but essentially the premise was understanding how to have portion control, measuring out your intake of proteins, fats, and carbs, and overall learning how to eat better foods for your body.

It was fascinating how quickly I was seeing results, not just physically, but mentally as well. We all know that feeling when you eat a big bowl of ice cream and then immediately feel disgust and shame. This never happened to me while eating organic foods, nor any time I ate a meal that was satisfying and healthy, I felt incredibly good about myself. In fact, in an article written by Neel Ocean and Peter Howley on CNN it is stated that, “Our analysis showed that increases in the consumption of fruit and vegetables are linked to increases in self-reported mental well-being and life satisfaction in data that spans a five-year period.”  This also applies to organic foods as well as fruits and vegetables. I continued doing this program from the beginning of May all the way up until the day before I left for college. By the end of the four months, when I was ready to go to college, not only did I look completely different, having losing 30 pounds, but I also felt completely different and was educated on food in ways that I never had been before.

While I was nervous that I would not always have this program or my mother’s cooking to lean on, I still had the power over my own self to make the best decisions whenever I stepped into Commons. Even attempting to make the best of the situation, it is still hard to always make the best choices. Again, I’m not asking UHart to be the best dining hall in the country, I am simply asking for this simple tweak. While on the topic of college dining halls, let us talk about the best dining hall in the country, UMass.

UMass is a very good school but let us be real; parties and food  is their reputation. When I walked into one of their three dining halls, I noticed that the layout of the dining hall was much different than ours. They do have all the options that we have here, but they also other options that you can choose from, healthier options. They have a juice bar that gives you a lot of choices and protein shakes that you can choose from. There is a big difference at UHart because there are fewer options here, and the healthiest ones are not always presented to the students. My cousin Adam, who attends UMass, has also taken notice of the healthy food options that are presented at UMass: “It’s nice knowing that there is always the option to eat healthy and even if I don’t want to eat super healthy, the option is always there.”

Why can’t our school have the same options? I understand you might think not many kids want to eat organic foods. I understand you may not have anywhere to put an organic food station. I understand that this could be expensive. There is a perception that Americans don’t like organic food. A lot of people also don’t have access to organic food, especially when unhealthy food is a lot more prevalent in our society. Maybe if we were presented with organic food all the time, people would realize that all-natural food does taste good. You may also think that there is not enough space in our dining hall but that can also be dealt with. Here’s a question; why do we need a whole section in between the deli and the soup for chips and bread? We cannot slide the sandwiches over on the counter to make a little room for delectable organic food? What about the expensive of healthy, organic food?

I believe it is a worthwhile investment to have a happy and healthy students. This can change, and this should change.  Healthy eating is one of the most important things we can do for our bodies. We are students, we are the people paying to be here, and we are the people who rely on campus food to have a productive day. The time to have healthier foods in our dining hall is now.

IMAGE COURTESY OF FOODREVOLUTION.ORG