By CJ Santosuosso SYRACUSE, N.Y. (NCC NEWS) – Tell me if this statement seems silly, but food is important.
Particularly on college campuses.
According to Technomic, a Chicago based food research company, the higher-education food service industry is valued at around $18 billion. By next year it will be valued at $19 billion.
In 1972 the industry was valued at a little under $1.9 billion.
The reason for this change? It depends who you ask. Universities say they are trying to cater to students dietary restrictions, needs and food allergies. Which is certainly a factor in this industry’s sharp rise.
But food is important. Remember that statement? A lot of factors are at play when students are considering colleges, and food is near the top of the list.
At Syracuse University, the school is in charge of their own dining service. They are accommodating to the students when looking at the surface. They offer a variety of options. They have vegetarian, vegan, and gluten free sections. One dining hall has a kosher section. They are also accommodating to food allergies as well.
But for students on campus, they feel that there are options in the dining halls, but more can be done.
“If they have that much money, they can put the effort into every area where people can eat on campus,” said Skye Prentice, a senior on campus.
Prentice was diagnosed with Celiac Disease when she was 11. She was surprised to learn just how large the dining hall industry was.
“I didn’t know that,” she said.
She did not deny that the campus has options. In her words, one or two food options was better than none.
But when it comes to the food, the university may not always choose the healthiest options. The university follows a plan where they try to create a menu that is similar to the menu that unrestricted students follow. Which is not always the best call.
“When it comes to protein sources for example they offer these pre-made veggie burgers that they just heat up or these vegan chicken nuggets. Something that tries to imitate meat when you don’t need to eat that,” said Kate Menegio-Stahl, a SU senior who has been vegetarian for four years.
Gabe Milluzzo is a junior on campus. Due to some health problems, his doctor is asking him to go on a dairy-free and gluten-free diet.
“There are somedays I just go into the dining hall and get a plate of lettuce and dressing,” said Milluzzo, who was surprised by the options presented in the dining halls. He said that he usually consumes at least 4,000 calories a day, and this new diet has been an adjustment.
With more and more money being poured into the college dining industry, students have hopes for the future, but in the time being they can acknowledge that more work needs to be done.
“When you’re eating food that you feel like isn’t being taken seriously you feel like you’re allergy isn’t being taken seriously, and therefore your life,” said Prentice.