Monday, June 8, 2015

Campus Food Investigation - UCSD edition

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By Karen Medgyesy, University Of California, San Diego

I’m Karen, a sophomore at University of California, San Diego and the Bon’App Ambassador on campus. I work with another Bon’App representative, Annie Gorges, investigating how UCSD’s dining halls can be improved. So far, we have distributed a survey to UCSD students about the dining hall food via social media. Here is what these 25 students have said concerning their dining hall food experience:

  • 14 out of 25 said that there is a lack of variety
  • 10 out of 25 complained about the high amounts of fat, sodium, and general greasiness of the food
  • 10 out of 25 do not enjoy the taste and quality of the food served
  • 6 out of 25 complained about how overpriced the food is considering its low quality
There is great consistency between the survey results and our own personal observations, both of which demonstrate what can be improved.  To reduce bias in the survey, there was no option to select what participants disliked. Therefore, students were encouraged to come up with their own opinions on the food to avoid subjectivity. Here is one response that primarily stood out to me:

“Unless you want a salad, fruit, or a sandwich (and even some of the sandwiches aren't very good for you) nothing is really good for you/healthy.”

This comment really resonated with me because I find myself wandering around the cafeteria in efforts to find a healthy meal. Usually, I end up eating the same type of food every day, which becomes very dull.

The sandwiches are certainly a hit or miss option. Here are the nutrition facts for a sandwich costing $7.25:

The sandwich has 1010 calories, 57 grams of fat, 5 grams of sugar and 2180 mg of sodium. All of these are absurdly high for just one daily meal, especially considering that the suggested daily value of sodium is 2300 mg.

As for the variety of the salad bars, one of the UCSD Housing Dining Hospitality (HDH) representatives claims that “it is rotated” but that is not the case. Annie took pictures of the salad bar for over a week and the only thing that occurred were simple substitutions of about one or two items. It is difficult to make a healthy salad every day when you are eating the same type of salad. Here is the salad bar of one of the best dining halls on campus:

Of course, there are no perfect cafeterias, but that does not mean the food at UCSD can’t be improved. Annie and I will continue our investigation as to what can be healthier and more affordable to students as well as research how to fix these problems. We will seek to meet with representatives of HDH and present the “Dream Dining Hallthat we developed as a group of Bon’App Ambassadors last year. It is our reference for healthy student dining in cafeterias, and hopefully we can make significant improvements that will have a lasting impact on student health.

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