By: Jennifer Urena
Kristina Rella walks into the La Penta Student Union building and the first smell to hit her nose is the french fries being pulled out of the fryer mixed with the freshly melted cheese on a pepperoni pizza being taken out of the oven just in time for the lunch rush.
Being a student at Iona College comes with its struggles, between classes, homework and extracurricular activities, maintaining healthy eating habits becomes a student’s last priority.
Iona College is home to Vitanza Commons, located on the ground floor of Spellman Hall and LaPenta Marketplace, located on the first floor of the LaPenta Student Union building. These are the two main cafeterias that provide students with fast food options to consume before class.
If students aren’t “feeling” what is being served on campus that day they can venture outside of campus to choose from a handful of fast food options such as McDonalds, Subway and AJ’s Burgers that accept the Iona College meal plan.
According to a survey taken by Iona students, the on and off campus eating establishments have one thing in common, a lack of healthy options on their menu.
While interviewing students some were open to discuss their feelings on the food provided by Iona but some where not as willing to be identified for talking negatively about the school’s options.
One student that did not want to be named stated he is not a huge fan of the food Iona has available. He stated that the food gives him stomach pains.
51 percent of students stated they are not happy with their eating habits according to a questionnaire given to them. Many of the students believed that being on Iona’s campus effected their eating habits due to the lack of variety of food.
“I think that the quality of food at Iona is good,” said Rella. “but there needs to be more variety of what there is to choose from as far as categories go.”
The company Chartwells caters the food provided in the cafeterias at Iona College as well as other campuses across the nation. Chartwells provides students with tools that breakdown what is being served and how to use the foods being served to create a healthy diet on Iona’s campus.
“It can be hard to maintain control in an environment where you can eat all you want,” said Helene Konsker, a dietitian that answers questions about maintaining a healthy diet on the Chartwells website.
The “Dine On Campus” website allows students to create a meal plan that caters to their needs. Possibly helping those that stated they wish they could eat healthier on campus according to the questionnaire given to them.
Students that stated they were not happy with their eating habits based on Iona’s food also have access to this website. When asked if Iona students knew about the website provided by Chartwells, many were not aware what was being provided to them.
According to Konsker food plays a key role in how information is gained. Using the tools provided and a goodnights sleep help to maintain a healthy lifestyle whether you are living on campus or a commuter.
For students struggling with their eating habits on campus should be aware of the “Balance U” page on the “Dine on Campus” website. This page provides a list of foods that can help boost metabolism, boost immune systems, provide energy and boost brain activity. This page also provides a link to foods that can help reduce stress.
Along with the website, Frank Onderdonk the senior director of dining services who was not available for comment, works with students and their problems regarding food. This was seen with the Iona College food truck when complaints came pouring in about the quality of food. This lead to a quick change in items being served on the truck according to the students interviewed with the questionnaire.
For students seeking healthier options from off campus restaurants websites such as caloriecount.com provide students with the nutritional information of some of their favorite fast food items.
For many fast food chains according to the Calorie Count law in New York City, restaurant chains with 15 or more locations are required to post nutritional information on menus in a font that is easily read by the consumer. This can allow students that eat off campus to decide on what items can be helpful are harm their eating habits.
On a college campus it is the students’ decision on what they want to eat. In the questionnaire provided earlier although students have the tools to eat healthy nearly 50 percent of students stated they rarely visit healthy locations to eat. It is suggested students to not only research their options but possibly take advantage of what is provided to them.