Though some Ohio State officials tout the nutritional value and the variety of options available at on-campus dining halls, some students said they aren’t impressed with what they see on the nutrition facts labels.
“Ohio State tries to make it seem like they have healthy options, especially at the RPAC, but everything’s actually really bad for you if you look at the nutrition,” said Emily Harris, a second-year in biology.
Harris also said it is even harder to eat right on the weekends since limited dining halls are open.
On Saturdays and Sundays, 10 of the 29 dining locations on campus are closed, according to the Dining Services website.
Kaitlyn Cappel, a second-year in strategic communication, also said nutritious options on campus could improve.
“I definitely think (campus food) could be more healthy. I think there are healthy options, but I also think that they portray some things as being healthy, but when you look at the labels, it’s really not,” Cappel said.
Recently OSU’s Dining Services released a few statistics that “show students are making healthier choices when it comes time to eat on campus,” according to OSU news briefs posted on the onCampus website, a university faculty and staff news source.
“In the last three years, fresh fruit and vegetable sales have increased 40 percent,” the list reads. “For every burger sold in the Ohio Union Market, two salads are purchased. More fruits and vegetables are sold than chips and French fries combined.”
Student Life spokesman Dave Isaacs said in an email that information came from “register sales at all (Dining Services) locations, but the system is really set up to track inventory, not trends,” so there was not “broader” information available.
Gina Forster, a registered dietitian and assistant director of nutrition and health for OSU Dining Services, said the increased availability of fruits and vegetables on campus and the fact that people have generally become more health conscious in recent years contributed to an increase in healthy eating.
“There’s just more information out there about the benefits of eating healthy,” she said. “This generation is growing up getting those messages sent to us via email, via social media — all the time. It’s in our faces how important it is.”
But French fries and other “unhealthy” foods likely won’t disappear from dining halls anytime soon.
“There are certain options that are never going to go away,” Forster said. “We are here to cater to the desires of the students. That’s just like any restaurant.”
One option, the Margherita pizza at Marketplace on South Campus, has 1,412 calories and 134 percent of the recommended daily value for sodium, according to Dining Services nutrition information online.
Others pack in the calories as well — a cookie sundae at Mirror Lake Creamery has 899 calories and 115 percent of the recommended daily value for saturated fat, and a buffalo chicken wrap at Sloopy’s Diner has 1,350 calories, 183 percent of the recommended daily value for sodium and 107 percent of the recommended daily value for total fat, according to the nutrition information.
Although healthier options are always available, the unhealthy choices are meant to mimic the real world, where people have to choose for themselves, Forster said.
“If we took all (the unhealthy options) away, what are you going to learn?” she said.
Students’ access to nutrition information regarding the foods on campus is a work in progress, as not all nutrition information for all locations is available online yet, Forster said.
“We are probably about 60 percent finished with that, and the majority of that 40 percent (left) is the Traditions (dining),” Forster said.
Forster said that information should be fully posted by next year.
In the meantime, a social media campaign is slated to take place soon to encourage OSU students to eat right, Forster said, and informational packets are being given out to help increase students’ knowledge about healthy eating.
One of the pamphlets is set to feature recipes students can make in their residence halls using items found at the convenience stores on campus, Forster said.
Cappel said that idea is “really cool” and she would be interested to see the recipes.
“It’s hard to cook in the dorm because most recipes involve an oven,” she said.