Art by Brian Zhou
There is a lack of nutrition labeling in the Caf, the menu has diminished at the HAWC, prices have increased across cafeterias and students with dietary restrictions are left with limited options. There is no reason a student should be fearful, unhappy and feeling lost when it comes to eating a meal at their university.
Though Pepperdine advertises great cafeteria food, many students are not impressed.
“Not bad for a college cafeteria but I’m in my third year and the food gets old,” 2021 alumna Rachel Hogan wrote on Google Reviews one year ago.
Hogan expresses the same sentiment many students are feeling a whole year later. It begs the question — has the food really improved since then? Students remember the food they eat on a daily basis better than the notes they take in a three-hour class. Therefore, it should be food that doesn’t “get old.”
Moreover, students with dietary restrictions — such as vegetarians, vegans and those with lactose intolerance — are among those suffering while searching for food to eat.
This is the case for junior Juliet Johnson. Johnson’s dietary needs include both dairy-free and gluten-free food, so picking out what she should eat every day isn’t always a walk in the park.
“The only thing I can be sure I can eat is salad,” Johnson said. “The vegan bar is never appropriately labeled.”
It is unfair Juliet Johnson is rolling the dice with her life every time she enters what is supposed to be a harmless cafeteria, under no fault of her own.
Equally as important are the expensive food and drink items. For example, Naked Juice beverages are sold at many grocery stores, gas stations and convenience stores.
At the Nature’s Edge store on campus, Naked Juice drinks cost $6. At Ralph’s grocery store, they cost $5. This is a full dollar markup for the same exact drink of the same exact size.
This is the case for many other beverages, sushi and snacks sold on campus. A majority of students already pay so much for a meal plan and spend it all on items they could buy cheaper elsewhere.
What Pepperdine needs to do is label the food it makes for students with dietary restrictions. The nutrition labels are lacking in clarity for many food items that dietarily restricted students purchase. Therefore, Dining Services needs to make the vegan and vegetarian bar clearly branded for its consumers.
Potentially creating a specific store on campus dedicated to vegan, vegetarian and healthy food options would better suit the overall well-being of dietary restricted students. Additionally, fully opening the Caf food spots would solve a lot of problems. The Caf is functioning on a smaller scale right now. By opening the rest of it, students would not only have more options, but there would be enthusiasm when going to get food each day.
Furthermore, Pepperdine needs to better price their food based on the quality of what they make and the market price for the products they sell. Eating should be a time to refuel the body and enjoy — not a dreaded journey to search for the most edible dish.
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