Students demand options

Ashley Sepanski

Dining Services Director Richard Roldan said student feedback has helped create new food options.

Healthier choices on the way

Changing times and appetites at Kent State have brought healthy food options to the forefront on campus. With the classic college breakfast of cold pizza and beer becoming more of a delicacy than an everyday food option, dining halls are altering their menus to provide healthier choices for students.

Dining Services Director Richard Roldan said student feedback has helped create new food options.

“Our menus are constantly changing,” Roldan said. “We are offering more vegan and vegetarian options. Food that has no preserves and gluten-free bakery items are available upon request.”

Roldan said Prentice Café is also starting Veggie A-Go-Go, a vegetarian service where students can call in and order food to be prepared and picked up at a designated time.

Jodie Luidhardt, Kent State Nutrition Outreach coordinator, said eating healthy on campus is all about choices.

“Dining Services does a pretty good job at providing healthy foods, vegetables, fruits,” Luidhardt said. “They also, however, have cheeseburgers and pizza and fried chicken.

“I think a lot of times students think ‘Oh there’s no healthy food to eat’ because it’s just in the habit of going to that station (for burgers, etc.), but they do have healthy options and now you can get the nutrition information for all the food offered on (Dining Service’s) website.”

Now on, students need only to look up the location where they want to eat to find the nutritional and ingredient information of all the meals offered that week.

“It’s nice too because you can submit a comment or leave a complaint,” Luidhardt said. “I know a couple years ago we had students complain that the salad bars only had iceberg lettuce. There were a lot of students writing in asking for more greens, spinach, romaines and now (Dining Services) is doing that, so they respond.”

Alyssa Conti, senior biology major and Centennial A resident assistant, said she has noticed a change in campus food.

“When I first came in, we had the fried food and everything else like that, but throughout the years, I feel like the school has become more conscious of what they are providing,” Conti said. “There’s more vegetarian options, more healthy options instead of just putting everything in a fryer.”

Luidhardt said prepackaged food offered in the dining halls can also be a healthy option.

“Lean Cuisines and Smart Ones are great because they’re portioned,” Luidhardt said. “They’re not that expensive. They’re only about 300 calories though, so that’s probably only going to fill you up for an hour so I always recommend to either add fruit or some vegetables so it’s more of a complete meal.”

Luidhardt also recommended filling Styrofoam takeout containers with salad and vegetables from the salad bar to have on hand in the dorm rooms.

“Also always have healthy cereals,” Luidhardt said. “Cereal can be a great breakfast, a great snack food, so I always say ‘Hey, keep that cereal around’. It’s better than keeping other things.”

The key to prepackaged success, Luidhardt said, is to check serving sizes and make sure each one has fewer than 800 milligrams of sodium.

With all the food options on campus, Roldan said eating healthy is an individual process.

“Healthy is your own personal thought,” Roldan said. “Whether that’s three meals a day, getting lots of protein, whatever your lifestyle is, we want to offer a balance for all lifestyles.”

Contact health reporter Ashley Sepanski at [email protected].