NewsFebruary 21, 2022
Food. No one can survive without it. Optimally, you don’t have to give it much thought, but adequate nutrition, or the lack thereof, has the power to dictate someone’s entire livelihood.
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Graphic by Emma Kratky


No one can survive without it. Optimally, you don’t have to give it much thought, but adequate nutrition, or the lack thereof, has the power to dictate someone’s entire livelihood.

The proposed new meal plan for the 2022-23 school year, originally presented Feb. 7 to student government, entails a switch to a more restaurant-based system at Towers Cafe. It would allow students to use a meal swipe to choose food from one of several updated stations. It will keep the all-you-can-eat model for staples such as salad and fruit and potentially even waffles, cereal, ice cream and desserts.

However, for some, this switch raises serious concerns.

Conservation biology senior Sage Alyxander said they anticipate feeling restricted and potentially unable to get the nutrition they need if Towers Cafe switches to only allowing students to choose food from one station.

“I’m trying to physically and mentally recover from an eating disorder, so I really need to get all the food that I can. But if I’m limited to only being able to eat half of one of the concepts, then I’m just out of that food,” Chiles said.

In general, Chiles wishes the proposed meal plan allowed students more freedom to choose what they want to eat.

“It feels like we’re back in high school, and you just walk into the cafeteria, and you get what you get from that particular station,” they said.

Chiles isn’t the only one feeling this way. Many people in the Living at Southeast Facebook group voiced their opinion that the buffet-style eating option is their favorite part of Towers Cafe and makes eating easier for them.

Psychology and criminal justice sophomore Dominica Bowles worries the proposed meal plan might not have the flexibility to accommodate her dietary restrictions, including being unable to eat dairy and eggs.

“It’s hard enough to try to find everything that meets the qualifications for a standard meal, and it’s like, yes, I could eat that stuff, but then I’m gonna be miserable. I’m not gonna want to go to classes because of how physically awful I feel. Like, there’s not going to be a way for me to avoid it if I stay on campus,” Bowles said.

This situation is serious enough Bowles doesn’t think she could eat on campus if her concerns are not addressed.

“At this point, I applied to be an RA, and if I don’t get that position and I don’t hear anything about how they’re going to help with people that do have allergies, I’m probably going to end up honestly moving off campus. That way, I can provide myself actual food that is nutritious, that I can actually eat,” Bowles said.

The dining staff want to do their best to accommodate students, including those with dietary restrictions. Resident district manager Matt Ludwig, who oversees all the dining facilities on campus, says he believes switching Towers’ layout is in the best interest of the general student body.

“In Towers, where the menu changes every day, sometimes [students] don’t know what might be there, and that interest in grazing to different stations isn’t really part of the students’ dining preference these days,” Ludwig said.

Ludwig also emphasizes the dining staff’s desire to listen to student preferences and mentions the addition of the vegetarian station and halal chicken to the menu this year in response to student feedback.

Students who have questions or concerns about their dietary needs have several options: They can text suggestions and comments about their visit to numbers posted around the eating areas or attend a meeting of the Dining Advisory Council to share their opinion and feedback.

Of all the ways to get involved with dining on campus, Ludwig highly recommends students, especially those with dietary restrictions, first reach out to Kiersten Brown, Southeast’s nutritionist.

“That is a great resource for students and something that a lot of campuses don’t offer,” Ludwig said. “She’s always willing to make time to meet with students and speak with them one-on-one to specifically understand their needs and help them create or know where to find meals that fit within their dining restriction.”

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