When walking through The Avenue, or any Cal Poly restaurant , students are faced with one simple question: what to eat? With the options of Chick-fil-A sandwiches, salads, burritos and many other options, it is a tough choice to make.
Tracy Tietje, a cashier at The Avenue said Chick-fil-A is the most popular purchase.
“The spicy chicken sandwiches and obviously the waffle fries are a big hit,” Tietje said. “I see the majority of the students buying those.”
The popular spicy chicken sandwich contains 480 calories while the waffle fries contain 400 calories, according Chick-fil-A nutritional information. Many students do not have a clue that this meal packs a 880 calorie punch — if a lemonade is added to the mix, then it is almost a total days worth of calories in one meal.
Exactly how many Chick-fil-A sandwiches are students consuming? Yukie Nishinaga, the marketing and public relations manager for Campus Dining, said those are numbers she cannot access and declined to comment.
Although the exact number of sandwiches students eat per month are unknown, kinesiology senior Claire Louie said more people go toward pre-made options so the numbers are probably much higher than the amount of salads consumed on campus.
“It’s a lazy factor,” Louie said. “Students want things that don’t take as long to make.”
Jane Hurley, a co-manager for the Cal Poly FLASH and A-Team projects at STRIDE, said the convenience factor is a huge component when it comes to eating on campus — if something is already made, hot and ready, it is easier to eat instead of making a fresh salad.
For those students who are actually trying to watch their figure or want to eat healthy, on campus restaurants can be daunting. There is not a single word of nutritional information on any of the campus-packaged foods such as yogurt parfaits or pre-made salads.
For students, Louie said, better choices can be made once nutritional information is available.
“It is important to know what you’re eating,” Louie said.
Those looking to order off the menus at Backstage Pizza or 19 Metro Station will not see how many calories are in a slice of pizza or plate of pasta.
“People have no idea how bad some of the foods are,” Louie said. “Advertising the caloric amount can help students make an informed decision about what to eat.”
Even if a student does ask to see the nutritional facts in places like The Avenue, many are directed to the website to look up the information.
“I would like to see (nutrition facts) right next to the menu item, that way it easier to make a decision about what to eat,” Hurley said. “It’s disappointing that the staff does not have those available for when students are trying to make an informed decision.”
The calorie content isn’t the only concern on students’ minds. Nutrition junior Anna Nakayama said besides the fried and greasy food, sanitation is also an issue.
“At (VG Cafe) I have seen the way that food is kept and it just looks unsafe,” Nakayama said. “The campus simply needs to be offering fresher foods to the students.”
It is up to the administration to change the situation on campus, Nakayama said.
“We need more organic, local and fair trade foods,” she said. “We should be selling Cal Poly chocolate if anything and using produce from the Organic Farm.”
Lauren Matthews, a H.E.A.T peer educator at the Health Center, said there are definitely more options on campus than there used to be, but the overall options are still limited.
“There are hardly any options for diabetics or those who are on restrictive diets,” Matthews said.
With Chick-fil-A being the first thing students see when they walk into The Avenue, Hurley said although she feels there are some healthy options available, the higher fat, higher calorie foods look more persuasive to the college student.
“Take The Avenue for instance,” Hurley said. “The salad bar is in a great position right in the middle of the restaurant area, but they have high-fat food options like fried chicken wings and macaroni and cheese at the end of the salad bar. That is going to overpower the desire to get a salad.”
Hurley also said, instead of having cookies and candy closest to the registers at The Avenue, fruit should take that spot instead.
Change is something that needs to happen, Matthews said, because it will benefit the campus as a whole. Hurley agrees.
“I really feel that campus promotes the ease of higher fat, higher calorie options,” Hurley said. “With easy modifications we could at least make it more accessible and easier to make healthy choices.”