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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Column: $8 for a salad from Core? UA students need more affordable healthy options on campus

Bad eating habits are common on our campus. Stress and a lack of time play a huge role in the food choices students make, but at the UA, the options provided make an unhealthy diet practically the only affordable option.

A small cheese pizza can be purchased at Papa John’s for about $8 on or off campus with a CatCard or student meal plan. This pizza comes with six slices and, according to the Papa John’s nutritional facts, is actually six servings of pizza.

A popular and healthier food option on campus is Core. At Core, you can build and personalize a salad for about $7. This price only includes greens and other toppings, but not protein. In order to get enough food to satiate you for the rest of the day, you’ll have to shell out another dollar or two. To get a filling salad, a minimum of $8 (before tax) has to be spent.

This might not be an issue for students who can afford a hefty meal plan, but for those who need to spend their financial aid and the money they earn to pay for tuition and housing, healthy choices quickly become less appealing. Why buy a one-serving salad for the same price as a six-serving pizza?

This is a theme at the UA. Should you grab a cheap sandwich from Chick-fil-A or an expensive wrap from IQ Fresh? Should you drink a $5 fruit smoothie or a $2 soda? When money is on the forefront of so many students’ minds, the choices are clear.

The UA is also an anomaly with its absence of dining halls. Most universities offer students meal plans that provide several meals a day through a dining hall service. Students get a choice of what they want to eat and how much they want to eat for the same flat price for every meal. Of course, some students would still choose to eat their weight in cereal and frozen yogurt every day, but when the urge hits, they at least have the option of getting a salad or a bowl of fruit without breaking the bank.

Some students have the ability to cook at home, which saves money and gives them the option to cook healthier meals for themselves, but this isn’t feasible for students living in on-campus housing. Since they aren’t allowed to keep knives or certain cooking equipment in their dorms, students must check out these items from the front desk and use the dorm’s communal kitchen. The ingredients also have to be stored in a tiny refrigerator or bought and cooked immediately.

Access to fresh ingredients to cook is also a privilege only students with cars can enjoy. The UA doesn’t have any stores on campus that offer enough fresh produce or meats to cook, and the walk to the nearest grocery store is almost worse than paying $8 for a salad from Core.

Sharing dirty cooking equipment with the whole dorm or trying to cook with semi-frozen vegetables is understandably less appealing than walking over to the Arizona Student Unions for a delicious burger made in minutes. Because of the availability of these cheap and unhealthy options, students will continue to make poor eating choices during a time that is crucial to establishing the routines they will carry into their adult lives.

Follow Nicole Rochon on Twitter.

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