Tulane University students trying to live a healthy lifestyle or have dietary needs and allergies may feel burnt out due to the campus’ limited dining options and overpriced meal plans.
Arguably the most reliable option for a balanced meal at the Lavin-Bernick Center Food Court, Panera Bread, was replaced with Dunkin ‘Donutswhich offers meal options with ingredients that many may not be able to eat.
It is time to restructure the LBC’s food court – our most central and convenient dining option other than the Commons – to the needs of Tulane students.
Many students are frustrated with the current state of the LBC food court. An independently conducted survey suggested that 76% of students think that Tulane has not done a good job of selecting restaurants in the LBC that fit the needs of the student body.
Needs can include dietary restrictions, allergies, nutrition or simply foods that students find appetizing. Sixty-four percent of students said that they were not in favor of Panera Bread being replaced by Dunkin ‘Donuts. Sixty-eight percent of students said they believed that the LBC options are at least below average in quality compared to other universities. It is a problem that so many students from this survey are unsatisfied with the LBC, and it is important to examine why they may feel this way.
At Tulane, it is a requirement that all first and second-year students have a meal plan along with living on campus. There are three different options students can choose from their first year and five their second year, most for a total of $ 3,585 per semester.
A meal at Tulane is no bargain, and one would expect the food to be at its best quality considering the hefty price tag.
When asked if he felt like he was getting his money’s worth out of his meal plan, especially with the LBC options, junior Chris DelGado said, “Absolutely not. I am not a fan of the expensive food and [how much] it costs for the low quality. ”
DelGado is absolutely right about how expensive the LBC options really are, as sushi at Wild Blue will usually cost more than $ 10; a salad at Wall of Greens starts at $ 6.69. It can be said that most of the food at the LBC does not live up to its price tag in terms of quality. There is definitely room for improvement, especially considering how much money is invested into Tulane each year.
One would assume with all of this funding students would have food that is of a higher quality and more accessible for those with dietary needs.
On average, around 7-11% of college-aged students have some sort of life-threatening allergy. It may seem like a small number, but at Tulane this statistic would equate to around 600 students. It is important to also keep in mind those students with intolerances or other types of dietary needs.
Sophomore Bella Rossi describes her experience at the LBC as someone with severe allergies and food intolerances. She said, “[The Commons has] that section where it’s like allergen free and people can like tap in and go in there. But like they don’t have something like that in the LBC … they screw us up with nuts like everywhere else so for me with a sensitivity, and I can’t even order at these places. ”
Cross-contact is a prevalent issue at the LBC, as most places serve foods with common allergens such as gluten, dairy and tree nuts. There seems to be very sparse allergy or intolerance-friendly options at the LBC as compared to other places on campus such as the Commons, Rollin ‘n Bowlin’ or Rimon.
Sophomore Jessica Luckey, who has special dietary needs, suggests changes for the LBC. She said, “I think they should do something like the Commons where they put the nutrition facts and the menu for the day and what’s in the food and stuff online, especially for people with dietary needs.”
Although the LBC is located in the epicenter of campus, it is not a feasible option for students who have any type of allergies or special diets. These students should have the same access to a variety of food that any other student would on their meal plans, especially if they are paying the same price.
Of course, there are healthier options to choose from such as Wall of Greens and Freshens, but the most filling, efficient and affordable options that students tend to favor are Dunkin ‘Donuts and WOW Cafe.
Students often have to choose between expensive meals that are “healthy” but less filling, versus cheaper meals that have more food and are more substantial.
Tulane students should not have to feel like they are paying thousands of dollars for food that they do not enjoy or that does not fit their needs. The LBC must be more accessible, more affordable and have more diverse options.