As many people are aware, the food options at CCM have changed drastically and not for the better. Over the summer, the cafeteria in the Student Community Center was removed and the menu at the Cohen Cafe was revamped severely. There are new options as well as new dynamics for the preparation as well as presentation of the food in the cafes.
The cafe in the student center was removed to make room for several vending machines. They removed the healthy options, such as salads and soups, and the wonderful hot entrees, such as pizza and pasta, in order to plunk down vending machines chock full of trans fats, carbs, and chemicals that you can acquire and consume for such prices in the $1.50 to $5 range. Isn’t that just delicious?
Not only are they full of trans fats, carbs, and chemicals, they’re all pre processed foods. According to Observation of Cardiovascular Risk Factors in Luxembourg, a study by Cambridge University found that “Increased consumption of ready-made meals was found to be independently associated with abdominal obesity.” Do we, as a community of students and educators, really want to be obese just because we do not have good eating options in 50 percent of the selection of foods? It is not that students are purposely choosing the food with the poor nutrition, they have to, as it is often the cheapest food that is available. A near broke student would more likely choose a cheaper snack than paying more for something that would be significantly healthier. While there is food in the vending machines that is slightly higher in nutritional value, it is not that much more healthy than the cheap garbage, yet they charge between three and five dollars for it. What a delightful price gouge on hungry students! For $6 at a local deli, a student can purchase a sandwich, bag of chips, and a soda. Those are some incredibly expensive vending machines and the food is not even as healthy as it’s claimed to be.
In the Cohen Cafe, they have reduced the total amount of available food from selections such as tater tots, chicken tenders, empanadas, Quiznos, and healthier soups down to fresh-to-order burgers, sandwiches, and breakfasts as well as the elimination of the Quiznos, one of the soups, and downsizing the healthier pre-made cold cut wraps and sandwiches. Despite the effort to offer more, they actually offer less. The burgers end up cold, missing requested ingredients, or including unnecessary ones. This is absurd as this will drive down the willingness of students to purchase the food.
Winston Courboin, a design student at CCM, said he’d rather go to the Starbucks on campus and “It’s not even a real Starbucks,” Courboin said.
Couple the bad results with a wallet murdering $8-$10 a burger, and one can see why the students are hesitant to purchase food on campus and why they complain that there’s nothing to eat on school grounds despite a positive response on the option of customizable burgers.
“The food options are kind of limited because there’s only one cafe and some vending machines, but I do like the options for creating burgers,” said Ashley VanSickle, a game design student
Not only is price and nutritional value a factor, but so are the cancer-causing chemicals created when the meat is grilled. According an article from cancer.com called “Chemicals in Meat Cooked at High Temperatures and Cancer Risk,” grilled meats contain HeteroCyclic Amines (HCA’s) which are created when proteins within the meat are heated at high temperature as well as containing Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAH’s) are also created when the fat in the meat is cooked or burned. These chemicals can lead to cancers of the breast, colon, liver, skin, lung, prostate, gastrointestinal tract, and other organs. This is not something we want to promote on campus as one of the reasons for the renovation of the cafe’s was to offer healthier options.
Even the chicken tenders have decreased in quality. Instead of tasting like chicken, they seem to taste of fryer oil more and more as the semester goes on. This is nauseatingly unappetising. According to “Eating fried foods tied to increased risk of diabetes, heart disease,” a study from Harvard University, fryer oil is a cause of “weight gain, higher cholesterol, and higher blood pressure—all risk factors for type 2 diabetes and heart disease” (HSPH/NUS Study). The results, listed in the article, go on to say, “Participants who ate fried food 4-6 times a week had a 55 percent increased risk.” For any student eating in the Cohen Cafe at that rate, roughly one meal a day, they are significantly more likely to suffer the symptoms of the over-consumption of the fryer oil.
On the other hand, there are some positive aspects to the upgraded food. Although the meat is not at the higher quality level we all hoped for, the vegan and vegetarian options are delicious yet limited.
In the new Cohen Cafe, the make-your-own burger and salad stations are great for people who are trying to avoid meat and even dairy. There is a veggie burger option that one can customize to his or her liking. The salad station is loaded with nutritious options for anyone looking to stay healthy. There are little slips of paper on which customers can check off what they want on their burger or salad. It is an effective way to stay organized.
Also, one of the many ways that the Cohen Cafe can improve is if there are more pre-made burgers and salads for students to pick up on the go. Often, students who many eat dinner on campus end up spending too much time waiting for their food to get prepared because of the amount of hungry students. If there are more pre-made burgers and salads, there would not be a waiting problem.
Unfortunately, the Student Center Cafe is not as vegan and vegetarian friendly as the Cohen Cafe. However, students can still purchase the processed foods from the vending machines.
For the students who might enjoy vending machine food, the Student Center Cafe may not be much of a disappointment. Perhaps some may find it faster and easier to grab things without having to conversate or interact with another human being.
In addition, some students are upset that there are no longer any pizza, pasta or soup options in the Student Center Cafe. Twisted Mac will be dearly missed. The mouthwatering basil pesto pasta will forever be remembered.
It seems as though the cafes are trying to drive students into over spending on food when the price of a college education is already exceptionally high. Considering that students tend to go get food with their friends it’s easy to see that students would buy the less-than-appetising fair in order to be able to share a meal with their friends.
“It seems like they’re trying to skim off financial aid a little at a time” and for students that are already broke, this seems to be true,” said Cameron Caceres, a electrical engineering tech major at CCM.
One could say that it would be easy to go off campus for food but the low cost healthier options are, often, too far to walk to, which seems to drive students away and back to the Cohen Cafe or the vending machines in the ruins of the Student Center Cafe. For a student body that generally believes Parking Lot 1 is too far to walk to, it seems that affordable and healthy options are an unpalatable distance away.