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The Student Voice of UNC Asheville

The Blue Banner

The Student Voice of UNC Asheville

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Students wonder if campus dining is actually adequate

Students at UNC Asheville fear campus dining is not adequately meeting their nutritional needs on a daily basis. 

“There’s not a lot of variety and it’s very inconsistent,” said vegetarian student Milo Davis. “Sometimes the only consistently decent thing is pizza and cereal, and I’m a grown man. I shouldn’t just be given pizza and cereal every single day.” 

According to Davis, timing also plays a factor in the quality of the food that you eat. Optimizing when you go to certain campus dining locations is very important if you want a decent meal, he said. 

“If you go into Brown after like 8 p.m., everything is gonna be bad. Sometimes I’ll go to Highsmith after I get out of class at 11:30 and they won’t even be open yet,” Davis said. 

According to the campus’s Dine on Campus app, Highsmith Food Court opens at 11 a.m. 

Davis said the campus’s options of vegetarian or vegan dining are usually below average and very redundant. 

“They’ll put out things like bread and fruit and label it vegetarian. Like yeah, that’s what it should be. And I am so sick of having buffalo tempeh. Honestly, the best vegetarian options here are just ordering something that usually has meat in it but just asking them to take it out,” Davis said. 

Being a vegetarian, Davis said campus food does not meet his nutritional needs. 

“Campus does not provide enough protein for people who are vegetarian. I only get enough protein because I do my own grocery shopping. I have to go out and find shitty protein packed things to make up for campus,” Davis said. 

Davis said he does understand that being vegetarian is a choice for himself, but the campus could put more effort into making vegetarian friendly alternatives to meat instead of just using vegetables as a main course. 

“After I walk into Brown and see pizza for the fifth time that week, I really start to feel like they just don’t care,” Davis said. 

According to Katie Sutton, a history student at UNCA, campus dining is very hit or miss. 

“Honestly I mostly eat at Dunder. It’s the only thing that doesn’t really make me sick,” Sutton said. 

According to Sutton, the Down Under, as students commonly refer to as Dunder, provides small sandwiches, pizza on pita bread, and snacks like Uncrustables, which are filling but not very nutritious. Sutton said she thinks the campus could try to incorporate more variety into their menu. 

“I’ve talked to my vegan friends and they say 9 times out of ten it (vegan options) tastes like shit. I just think there needs to be more effort all around,” Sutton said. 

Margaret Steele, a doctor of naturopathic medicine and nutrition science professor at UNCA explains what students should be doing to achieve optimal health on campus. 

“College students should ensure adequate protein, healthy fats and a diverse array of complex, colorful carbohydrates full of fiber at most meals! This will make it more likely that they will get all the necessary macro- and micronutrients,” Steele said.

The Dine on Campus App provides users with nutritional data about the food served on any given day, which can help students ensure they are getting the proper nutrients. 

However, according to Sutton, Dine on Campus often misrepresents what food is being served on a given day, which can make it harder for students to plan their meals.

According to students, when faced with these obstacles, it can be challenging for students to achieve a well rounded diet. 

“I think that many college students eat too many ultra-processed foods. Ultra-processed foods are industrially formulated foods made mostly from substances extracted from whole foods. This includes things like pop-tarts and bagels, pizza pockets and microwavable meals” Steele said. 

Given that a lot of the convenient options on campus are high processed foods (packaged snacks sold at Dunder or Highsmith Food Court) many students end up eating a high amount of processed foods. 

While it can be challenging to balance a healthy diet with school life, Steele said getting our essential nutrients is very important. 

“I think that remembering that they need ‘adequate protein, healthy fats and a diverse array of complex, colorful carbohydrates full of fiber at each meal’ can help them make healthier choices on campus,” Steele said.

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