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Students are hungry for change Why McMaster Hospitality Services needs to focus more on student health and less on students’ wallets

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By: Sevda Montakhab

University students face constant challenges including exams or projects that interfere with their ability to maintain good health through exercise and a healthy diet. The first year of university can especially take a toll on students’ health — equipped with a limited budget and unlimited access to cheap snacks, students can encounter serious hurdles when trying to eat healthy.

For the majority of students, university is the first time that they are living independently. While these students may have knowledge of their nutritional requirements, the transition to university provides immense freedom over food choice. This is critical as it marks the formation of students’ dietary habits, which can follow them throughout adulthood.

Unfortunately, it is common for students to make unhealthy dietary decisions, as they aim to choose the most convenient food options available, which are not necessarily the most healthy. At McMaster University, the most convenient food options available to students on-campus are those provided by the university’s hospitality services.

It is sad then that McMaster Hospitality Services consistently fail to provide students with affordable and nutritional food options. In doing so, they seem ignorant of the critical role they play in shaping the dietary habits of McMaster students.

The type and quality of food provided by Hospitality Services put students at risk for making poor dietary choices. Despite the variety of food options available, there are only a handful of meals served on-campus that are reasonably-priced and of good quality.

Most food served on-campus is frozen and unappetizing, earning McMaster Hospitality Services a bad reputation among students who a month into the school year often resort to convenience foods including fried and processed meals.

The seemingly-healthy food options offered across campus such as the premade salad packages sold at La Piazza are expensive, stale and sometimes even inedible due to a lack of attention paid by the staff to properly handle the fresh ingredients.

Another cause for concern is the exuberant price of on-campus food, a concern that is severely overlooked by McMaster Hospitality Services. For example, ordering a plate of food at East Meets West Bistro can cost students $15. This poses a serious issue to students who in addition to trying to navigate the most healthy food options available are also constrained by a tight budget.

Observing the rise in costs over the past few years, it is clear that McMaster Hospitality Services focuses on profit rather than quality, and seems to care little about its student customers.  

McMaster Hospitality Services needs to change to meet the financial situation of their students as well as provide them with quality food. There is an urgent need to provide more affordable, appetizing and nutritional food options that can encourage students to make more healthy decisions.

The implementation of such changes is sure to not only improve the quality of student life on-campus but also improve the overall health of the community of the future.

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