Hawks are Hungry: Dining Options Could Be Improved

SUNY New Paltz’s on-campus food provider, Sodexo, has made strides in accommodating students with dietary restrictions in recent years. They have conducted surveys to assess what areas need improvement and address student concerns in regards to food quality and variety. 

In response Sodexo has increased the vegetarian and vegan options at various dining establishments throughout campus, such as the Wild Mushroom station at Hasbrouck Dining Hall, Tokyo Sushi and Salad Toss in the Student Union Building and the Roost at Ridgeview Hall. 

The school is also implementing an allergen-free zone at Hasbrouck in the near future that will accommodate students with gluten or various other food allergies. 

“My Zone” will be a station free of the most common food allergens: shellfish, milk, gluten, nuts, tree nuts, soy, fish and eggs. It will include prepared meals as well as stations where students can reheat pre-cooked meals without fear of contamination.

Additionally, Campus Auxiliary Services (CAS) has a dietician available to students for private consultations to discuss the options on campus that meet their dietary restrictions and answer any other nutrition-based questions or concerns. The dietician is also available to guide individuals with religious-based dietary restrictions.

We at The New Paltz Oracle commend our school for their efforts to accommodate students on campus with dietary restrictions with several different options for food that fits their needs.

“My Zone” is a step in the right direction and will give students, especially first-years who are limited in their on-campus dining options, the ability to eat everyday at Hasbrouck without risking an allergic reaction or dietary disturbance. 

However, given that alternate meal plans are offered to students with at least 30 credits expanding their dining options, implementing an additional kiosk similar to My Zone in another location on campus would greatly benefit students with dietary restrictions. 

The students of SUNY New Paltz deserve food quality and variety reflective of what we pay for, and we pay a good deal. Regardless of where you eat on campus, your options are limited. Fruits and vegetables in Hasbrouck are often not ripe or are frozen. The supply does not seem to keep up with the demands of the students who do not want to pay $3.89 for a plastic container of grapes at Nester’s. 

Most places where students have access to healthy food on campus, such as Tokyo Sushi or Element 93, close early or are not open at all on weekends. Vegetarians and vegans are often not the only students seeking healthy food choices. Expanding the hours of dining options that provide a wider range of food choices would be greatly appreciated by the students and could improve the overall eating habits of the student body. 

We acknowledge that people who are vegetarian or vegan are the minority, and it is difficult to address the needs of thousands of students– however, with a diverse campus, New Paltz prides itself on its inclusivity. Although the school has taken significant steps in this initiative, it imperative that the trend continues. For instance, the addition of an entire dining hall on campus called TerraVe that specializes in food geared towards vegetarians and vegans, as seen at SUNY Purchase in Westchester, would be exemplary.

But the addition of even a kiosk in the SUB specifically for students with dietary restrictions would be an important installation that would not impede any of the other food establishments on campus and be appreciated by students with these dietary restrictions. 

SUNY Albany has access to kosher and halal food all over campus, providing kosher-designated areas in their three dining halls. While these students are also a minority, it is important that these options are offered across campus in order to meet the university’s goal of inclusivity. 

Currently, the Hasbrouck Dining Hall website delays updates on the daily menu. Making information regarding dietary restrictions more easily accessible would help students as it can be difficult to find on the school’s dining website.

What’s more, the placards regarding the types of food at the dining hall are often unclear or misleading; mislabelling food is dangerous as it increases the potential for students to consume foods that they shouldn’t. Updating the website and food placecards daily is necessary for students to know what is in the food they are eating and address their dietary needs.

While the school should be conscious to reflect its diversity in their dining options, it is not their burden alone. School officials stress the need for persistent and proactive action from students for change to occur. We at The Oracle feel that increased guidance and outreach to students with dietary restrictions would aid them in this call for action.

We appreciate the efforts the school has made thus far in appealing to a variety of students on campus, but we believe there is much more to be done. Providing more accessible options for students with dietary restrictions is necessary in aligning with the university’s goals of diversity and inclusivity.