CAS encourages student input, increases vegetarian options

Students gathered in Food Studio North to discuss campus vegan and vegetarian options on March 12 in a talk led by Campus Auxiliary Services Nutrition and Wellness Coordinator Cory Hancock. First greeted with delicious homemade black bean brownies, the students assembled in the booths at Letchworth Dining Hall and began the discussion. “First, let’s start with the things that you do like on campus,” Hancock said. She emphasized seeking feedback about some of the newer vegetarian and vegan additions recently made to the dining hall menus.

Students spoke highly of Fusion Market’s menu, praising the fact that tofu had recently been worked back in as an option for Asada’s tacos, burritos and burrito bowls.

In addition, both Clio’s vegan and vegetarian sandwich options and the tofu option for the stir-fry at Lotus were highly complimented by students. World Kitchen was also a favorite with to the availability of a different meal every day and almost every food having a vegetation option.

After feedback of current menu items, Hancock opened the floor to suggestions. Students began by talking about how they often feel that they are simply eating carbs as a substitute for what should be protein. They suggested rather than reverting to pizza and pasta for vegetarians, incorporating more dishes with beans, rice and legumes.

As far as grab-n-go salads go, students were concerned with the lack of vegan options. “There are no meatless or cheese-less options,” vegan sophomore Jacqueline Christensen said. “As for the ones that do have cheese, it is almost impossible to just pick off because there is so much on the salad.”

A few issues with general food preparation were also discussed. Attendees expressed concerns over carelessness in Fusion when it comes to mixing animal and non-animal products, specifically in the taco and stir-fry lines where ingredients are thrown into food quickly.

Students also spoke about how non-meat substitutes––such as rice and beans in Fusion and vegetables in Mary Jemison Dining Hall’s salad line–– are not taken into account as a person’s main source of nutrition when it comes to portion size. Students often are served smaller portions of these foods, with the expectation that they are going to get some sort of meat or protein. In turn, they end up getting less food than students with an animal product-inclusive diet.

“Sometimes, it feels like my lifestyle is not supported on campus when my lack of animal protein or any protein is not calorically compensated with more carbs and vegetables,” Christensen said. “Just because I don’t eat animal products doesn’t mean that I’m not equally as hungry as someone who does.”

In addition to expressing their opinions and ideas to CAS, students shared new recipe ideas and suggestions. Hancock was very open to implementing changes such as adding more menu options, one of the most immediate being the introduction of garden nuggets as an option at lower Letchworth.

As CAS’s online Health and Nutrition page states: “We can only truly help the customers that reach out to us to discuss their needs.” This forum promoted that discussion and students can look forward to many more in the future.