This piece reflects the opinions of Marilyn Tseng, kinesiology lecturer, and Dawn Neill, social sciences associate professor. Letters to the editor do not reflect the opinion or editorial coverage of Mustang News.

To the editor:

We appreciate Mustang News’ coverage of our study on the Cal Poly nutrition environment. As policy-oriented research, the study presented findings from a Learn by Doing project that identified some areas for improvement: For example, increasing the number of healthful entrees overall, improving the variety of healthful side dishes and beverages, making nutrition information available at point of purchase and providing signage and using pricing strategies to make it easier to eat healthfully.

The research also highlighted some positive aspects of this campus food environment, including the availability of healthful entrees or main dish salads in at least half of all Campus Dining venues and the availability of nutrition information online for almost all venues.

Additionally, the two food stores on campus offered a reasonable variety of healthful options and fresh produce — much better than typical 7-11 type convenience stores. Given the recent closure of supermarkets closer to campus (most notably the Haggen on Foothill Boulevard), these on-campus stores are in a position to meet the needs of students interested in preparing their own meals or in buying fresh produce.

From the news article, it appears that more positive changes are coming. Two initiatives mentioned by Ms. Lorlie Leetham, Associate Vice President for Commercial Services at the Cal Poly Corporation, are especially promising: the local sourcing of foods, and moving to more “made-in-front-of-you” food preparation. As suggested by Ms. Leetham, healthy food is often considered to be expensive and less tasty. But, these pending campus initiatives would serve to increase the availability of healthy options and go a long way toward dispelling those misperceptions.

Overall, it is possible to eat healthily at Cal Poly — as long as you know where to go and what to buy. But given students’ dependence on the campus food environment, especially students who are required to purchase a dining plan and have limited access to a kitchen, universities have a responsibility to provide a food environment that fully supports healthy eating. Making healthy eating possible is one thing; making it easy is another. We feel encouraged seeing that Campus Dining is striving toward making this its next step.

Letters to the editor may be submitted to editor@mustangnews.net with the subject line “Letter to the editor” to be considered for publication. Submissions should not exceed 700 words, and should include a headline, and your year, major or position.

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