Vegan students with compulsory meal plans should be better accommodated

Since elementary school, we have been told how important it is to eat a lot of fruits and vegetables to stay healthy. Schools across the nation have been required to give students more vegetables and healthier food options for lunch since 2010 due to the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act.  

That is why I was so surprised when I arrived at Geneseo in the fall and found it extremely difficult to find readily available vegetables and healthy food options on campus.

I knew that no dining hall was going to be as good as home cooked food, but I couldn’t believe how few vegetables and vegetarian options there are available at Geneseo.  

While there are a few salad bars across the campus, there are very few places—the exception being all-you-can-eat buffets—where you can order a side of vegetables such as broccoli, zucchini or green beans with a meal. Rather, we have the option of ordering a side of fries and onion-rings. 

As someone who not only wants the nutrition that vegetables provide, but also sees the struggle that my vegetarian and vegan friends have finding multiple options for them to eat on campus, I strongly believe that there needs to be a change in the food options provided. 

Many students on campus are required to pay for a meal plan and then end up having to spend even more money at grocery stores off-campus because the campus does not provide the healthier options they desire. 

While there are fresh vegetables for sale on campus in Fusion, they are very expensive compared to the ones at the store. Some students may not want to spend extra money on these items. 

Their required meal plan is going to waste, and money that they should be saving for other school-related costs are used for groceries because the campus does not provide what these students need. 

Another issue that many students face is the lack of dairy-alternative products on campus. The only non-dairy milks that can be purchased on campus are a la cart in a small, juice-box form. 

While Starbucks has non-dairy milk alternatives for their drinks, students are at a loss when it comes to actual food items and meals. If the school is going to require students to purchase a meal plan, they must be required to provide all students with the food options they need—and not just as an add-on or specialty item.

Students should always have the option of ordering a side of vegetables with their meal, and the vegetables they have provided to them need to be affordably priced.  

Another change the school needs to make is to provide alternative dairy products readily available on campus for those students who are lactose intolerant and vegan.

If the school can make these few changes, eating on campus would be much easier and healthier for many students.