Health Food Famine? A Brief Survey of On-campus Food Options

As college students, we are not a demographic known for its healthy habits. Caffeine will do just as well as a sandwich for dinner, and fast food is a way of life.

Perhaps as age begins to take its toll we will begin to count calories and worry about fighting free radicals.

But until that time, we are left to forage around campus, picking the fruit of that junk food staple, the vending machine.

Butterfingers, Doritos and Twinkies. Shelf upon shelf, in unnatural reds, yellows and blues they wait for us. And as if University Bookstore and the Union’s C-store were not enough, the metal fingers of vending machines embrace the candy bars and cheap pastries in nearly every building.

With a facade reminiscent of a Vegas casino, a row of vending machines on the second floor of Orson Spencer Hall is perhaps a mini-Mecca of snack food. Standard Coke and candy machines complement machines that serve coffee, lunchables, V8, pineapple and chicken salad with crackers.

There’s even a microwave handy.

So where can you get a real meal? Such places, other than those Chartwells-run mainstays in the Union and Heritage Commons, do exist.

Head south and the dining options improve. The Lund Commons in the Christensen Center houses a small deli that serves pizza, wraps and sandwiches for less than $5. The most surprising thing: its hours. The doors are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday, with shorter hours on Fridays.

The nearby Utah Museum of Fine Arts houses a small caf, decorated with the melon-orange paint that covers the walls of the rest of the museum.

The menu’s fairly standard: more sandwiches and salads, plus some indulgent-looking cakes. Prices fall in the $3 to $4 range.

And across South Campus Drive, the cafeteria in the Latter-day Saint Institute serves sandwiches, soup and specials all in the impressive $2.75 range. Vending machines are amply present too.

At the other end of the spectrum and the other side of campus, is The Point in the Huntsman Cancer Institute. Fancy food, a view and moderate prices?sounds pretty good, but the location makes it a little out of the way for most students.

The University Hospital cafeteria houses a Burger King (a Burger King!), a salad bar, international food, sandwiches, desserts and so on. It’s a little cheaper than The Point, but without the atmosphere.

In a contradiction parallel to a BK in a hospital cafeteria, the lobby of the field house holds a vending machine stocked full of healthy snacks such as Snickers bars. Perhaps for a post-work-out reward.

Preventative medicine, or perhaps health education, in general, definitely has a way to go on this campus. Although some options aren’t so bad, health is not a theme for on campus food, especially not the cheap stuff. But who’s surprised?

Most of the places I’ve mentioned serve breakfast and lunch, but for those on campus in the wee hours of the evening, feeling the pangs of hunger, I recommend 7-11 or the Pie, Big Ed’s, B&D Burgers, just about anything along 1300 East.

Of course, you could always pack something.

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