In an era of health apps, Fitbits, and calorie counting, many students are increasingly seeking out healthier dining options. The closure of the 1780 (the flatbread café in Thompson lobby) puts Transy in a unique situation to address this cultural shift and promote a healthier lifestyle among students. Though the 1780 was formerly one of the healthier options on campus, it should not be viewed as a loss but rather as an opportunity to improve the healthy dining options on campus.
Current dining options do not adequately provide enough healthy alternatives. While the Caf and Jazzman’s offer some healthy options, they are quite limited- unless you want to eat the same foods day in and day out. Vegetables and healthier options in the Caf are packed with sodium and restrictive for students seeking vegetarian or vegan diets, while Jazzman’s only offers a limited selection of salads and sandwiches during lunch hour. These options are certainly a better choice than eating the fried options at the Raf, but leave something to be desired for students seeking organic, vegetarian, or truly healthy options.
Transy should open- or persuade Sodexo to open- a fresh, healthy dining option to replace the 1780 and help students achieve their health goals. There is a serious lack of variety of fresh fruit on campus, and having a venue that sold fresh fruit at a reasonable price would be a more convenient alternative to expensive store-bought fruit. More salad, sandwich, wrap, hummus, and yogurt options consolidated into one place with a side of fresh fruit would be alluring to many students seeking healthier options. Fruit smoothies and nuts would be welcome additions as well for healthier snacking. These options would also provide great opportunities to connect Transy with the local farmers and support local food sources. Recent efforts to break the Transy bubble and buy local have emerged on campus, and creating a steady partnership with the local community through food service is a sure way both to involve and enrich the local area. If we are serious about expanding into the community beyond the campus’ borders, we first must bring the local community into our borders and create mutually beneficial partnerships with them- and fresh food can help bridge that gap.
I recognize that a healthy dining option would require a more extensive budget and additional upkeep, but fostering healthy choices on campus has ramifications beyond satisfying a generational fad. The eating habits and choices students make in college have a direct impact on their health for the remainder of their lives. Besides immediate weight changes, eating habits in college strongly impact eating habits later in life, as well as can promote or discourage exercise. Eating healthy offers the immediate benefits of sustained energy and better physical performance. A 2012 study published in Applied Physiology, Nutrition and Metabolism found that nearly 70 percent of college students gain weight before graduation, and the average weight gained is 12 pounds. Maintaining or losing weight in college is no easy task, and Transylvania should do everything in their power to aid students by equipping them with proper nutrition. The school has invested plenty of money in the athletic and exercise portion of health with the newly upgraded athletic facilities, and the same importance should be placed on diet.
Though many students do not feel a need to eat healthy- and that is certainly their prerogative- those who want to be healthy should not be deterred from their mission nor feel constrained by the food options. Replacing the 1780 with a new, healthy option would diversify and strengthen the dining options at Transy. Transy needs to stay competitive in keeping up with student needs if Transy is to continue attracting high-caliber students. Plus, given that most students pay for a meal plan, they should be able to find healthy alternatives to get the greatest value for their money. The high price of room and board should cover not just foods students find acceptable, but also a reasonable variety and value of food. Best of all, a healthy venue would return a dining option to Thompson lobby without the overpowering smell and hazy smoke of the 1780.