Food and nutrition are important parts of everyday life, especially for a college student, and Peirce Dining Hall, for Kenyon students, is where we receive food. Even though we must eat every day to sustain our bodies, it is much more than that. Proper and balanced nutrition is just as important as the mere intake of food. Now, I want to make it clear that I am not telling someone how they should eat or criticizing the dining hall staff. I am here to try to get Kenyon to improve their overall menu and give students food that is not only nutritious, but also delicious.
Kenyon promised to prioritize good nutrition, yet the options in the dining hall are generally far from that. Before arriving, I cannot remember the last time I did not have vegetables regularly, but since coming here, that has been severely neglected. Generally, in the salad bar, there are mainly starchy vegetables such as corn, carrots and peas, which are significantly higher in carbohydrates than green beans, asparagus, brussel sprouts and broccoli. Even though there is raw broccoli at the salad bar, not a lot of people like the taste of raw broccoli because of the relatively high sulfur content. Carbohydrates, in cases of overconsumption, can lead to elevated blood sugar. This has made me feel, over the course of the last few weeks, sluggish and quite sick. There is too much emphasis on comfort foods, like chicken tenders, ham and cream-filled mashed potatoes, without proper alternatives. Students can eat how they want, but as a student that was promised good and healthy foods every day from the dining hall, I am disappointed.
AVI, our food service provider, also cooks for Oberlin, and in my research, I have found that the services they receive are far different than the ones AVI provides for Kenyon. Every week, Oberlin has their nutritional values posted on their AVI website. Kenyon could do the same through NutriSOURCE, yet for some reason they have decided not to. There is no easy way for students to access the nutritional values of the food they’re eating.
I am very aware of what I put into my body because it affects my mental and physical health. When I am eating a clean diet with minimal processed food, I perform better on a daily basis. Sadly, since I have arrived at Kenyon and completely changed my diet, I have noticed that my overall performance has decreased significantly. I am always hungry, though I have been consuming far more than I would at home. While some of the increased caloric intake can be explained by walking at least 10,000 steps a day, a lot of it is due to lack of proper nutrition.
When visiting Kenyon in 2021, I was told that the College prides itself on providing healthy meals for students every day, which sounds amazing, but there is a heavy reliance on making comfort foods. I want to make it clear that I am grateful for the dining hall staff and all that they do, but Kenyon could be doing more. Peirce is the only place that is covered by the meal plan, so I must rely on it, and I do not think it is that hard to expect simple, healthy and satisfying meals.
Christa Cheney is a contributor to the Collegian. She is a psychology and music major from Los Angeles, Calif. She can be reached at email@example.com.