ASU dining halls are driving students to make unhealthy choices

ASU dining halls do not have enough variety to appetize students

College students often do not have the time or the budget for a healthy and tasty diet, which is why the term "freshman 15" is so popular. So, when it comes down to a choice between Chick-fil-A and a plate of dining hall food, students are probably going to pick Chick-fil-A. 

College dining halls can get extremely repetitive with their food choices. Although ASU dining halls try to serve a variety of foods, there can be multiple times in one week in which a student will see nothing in the dining hall that they would like to eat or that fits their dietary needs.

ASU isn't doing enough to serve meals that are healthy and interesting to students, and consequentially, students are being driven to the many fast-food options around campus.

"I don't believe it's ideal because the meals get very repetitive and they don't serve you a lot of options sometimes," Alyssa Pompan, a freshman nursing major, said. "Variety is always good in a diet, and sometimes I feel like I don't get that in the dining hall. I like changing up my meals. I like going to Subway and Chick-fil-A when I want to."

It doesn't help that getting fast food is more convenient. There are fast-food options located closer to classes, in almost every part of campus. Additionally, students can take fast food back to their room as opposed to having to eat their meal in the dining hall. 

This trend is taking its toll on college students — about two-thirds of college students gain weight as freshman. This surely can be attributed, in part, to eating fast food frequently. 

However, students in the Barrett, the Honors College dorms in Tempe won't complain. They have what is considered the best dining hall on all the campuses. 

This dining hall is inaccessible to non-Barrett students unless they're willing to pay. For example breakfast in the Barrett dining hall costs $8.75 while lunch is $10.75 and dinner costs $12.75. 

According to ASU this dining hall offers "upscale menu items, a combination of local, organic and sustainable foods, ethnic foods, sushi, and signature desserts." 

This kind of dining should be accessible to all students, not just a select few. While some students are eating exquisite cuisine, others are being served the same cold food they had yesterday.

Nutrition lecturer at ASU, Christina Barth, did not see much concern in students eating fast food a few times a week.

"It's readily available, and it's convenient and fast. Going for fast food once or twice a week is perfectly fine," Barth said. "I think it's when people go and eat fast food every single day, then it's not such a healthy thing. If they gravitate to it more than once or twice a week, they could definitely start to see complications such as high cholesterol and weight gain."

The problem is that the dining hall meals aren't pushing people to get fast food just once or twice a week. The amount of times that some students are choosing fast food over dining hall food is beginning to become healthy. 

If ASU wants to keep the students healthy, there will have to be some type of revision of the dining hall meals. Students shouldn't be driven to fast food options just because ASU will not provide adequate meals.

Correction: An earlier version of this column stated choosing fast food was healthy. The sentence has since been corrected.

Reach the columnist at or follow @Jess_Ferrigno on Twitter.

Editor’s note: The opinions presented in this column are the author’s and do not imply any endorsement from The State Press or its editors.

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