Food and nutrition are important parts of everyday life, especially for a student, and Peirce Dining Hall, for Kenyon students, is where we get food. Even though we have to eat every day to sustain our body, it is much more than that. Proper and balanced nutrition is just as important as just eating food. Now I want to make it clear that I am not telling anyone how to eat or criticizing the dining room staff. I’m here to try and get Kenyon to improve their overall menu and provide students with food that’s not only nutritious, but also delicious.
Kenyan promised prioritize good nutrition, but the options in the dining room usually fall far short of that. Before arriving I can’t remember the last time I hadn’t eaten vegetables regularly, but since I’ve been here it’s been very neglected. Typically, the salad bar is dominated by starches like corn, carrots, and peas, which are significantly higher in carbs than green beans, asparagus, Brussels sprouts, and broccoli. Even though there is raw broccoli at the salad bar, few people like the taste of raw broccoli due to the relatively high content of contains sulfur. Carbohydrates, if overconsumed, can lead to an increase blood sugar. This has made me feel, for the past few weeks, lethargic and quite sick. Too much emphasis is placed on comfort foods, such as chicken breasts, ham, and creamed mashed potatoes, without suitable alternatives. Students can eat whatever they want, but as a student who was promised good and healthy food every day from the dining hall, I am disappointed.
AVI, our food service provider, also cooks for Oberlin, and in my research I found that the services they receive are very different from those AVI provides in Kenyon. Every week, Oberlin posts its nutritional values on its AVI website. Kenyon could do the same through NutriSOURCE, but for some reason they decided not to. There is no easy way for students to access the nutritional values of the foods they eat.
I am very aware of what I put in my body as it affects my mental and physical health. When I eat healthy with a minimum of processed foods, I get better results every day. Unfortunately, since coming to Kenyon and completely changing my diet, I have noticed that my overall performance has dropped significantly. I’m still hungry, although I’ve eaten way more than I would at home. Although part of the increase in calorie intake can be explained by walking at least 10,000 steps per day, much of it is due to a lack of adequate nutrition.
When I visited Kenyon in 2021, I was told that the College prides itself on providing healthy meals to students every day, which sounds incredible, but there is a heavy reliance on comfort food manufacturing. I want to say that I am grateful to the dining room staff and all they do, but Kenyon could do more. Peirce is the only place covered by the meal plan, so I have to rely on that, and I don’t think it’s that hard to expect simple, healthy, satisfying meals.
Christa Cheney is a contributor to college student. She is a psychology and music student in Los Angeles, California. She can be contacted at [email protected]