It’s 2017 and demands for healthier and more exotic campus food are getting even more shrill.
The University of Texas, Austin hired another campus dietitian for the fall semester, the University of Houston splurged $6,500 on hydroponic grow towers to produce oregano and cilantro without soil, and the University of California, Los Angeles invested in aeroponic grow towers to cultivate plants with only mist, reported The Wall Street Journal.
“I have had a little pushback from some very feisty vegans,” said Lindsay Wilson, UT Austin’s first campus dietitian, to The Wall Street Journal. She reports feeling overwhelmed by requests to customize individualized menus for students, discrediting misconceptions about food served at the university, and just generally advising them on how to live healthier lifestyles.
“If you’re not eating good things, how do they expect your brain to grow?” asked Hannah Logan, a University of Massachusetts Amherst sustainable food and farming student. (RELATED: Students Say They’re As Hungry As People Starving In African Countries)
“A strong dining program can attract top students,” said Garett Distefano, her school’s director of residential dining and sustainability. Distefano referenced a survey in which 70 percent of UMass Amherst’s students said that food was a key influence in their choice to attend the school.
UMass Amherst spent $2.7 million on local and sustainable food in 2014, but has already spent $4.9 million for the first half of 2017.
“For me to see myself going to a school, I also had to see myself being able to eat there,” said Ally Roberts, a University of Colorado Boulder freshman who hopes to become a neuroscientist. “I see a huge correlation between what I eat and how I think.”
Some schools, such as the College of William and Mary, even have “sustainability interns” who spend numerous hours a week growing food. (RELATED: Food Racism Is The Latest Front For High-Pitched Whining)
“You’ve got to keep pace with their expectations,” said Ted Faulkner, head of Virginia Tech’s dining services. After one Virginia Tech student complained about the supposed blandness of the school’s syrup, the dining staff let her and other student representatives choose from a selection of 13 different syrups.
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