ARC needs more food options to meet everyone’s dietary needs

Sodas, Hot Pockets, bagels—the limited food choices at ARC are not sufficient


American River College needs to improve the quality of the food available in the cafeteria to meet everyone’s dietary needs. (Photo by Estera Nicoi via Unsplash)

Lorraine Barron, Opinion Editor

If you go to the cafeteria at American River College, it’s likely you will mainly find “junk food.” Things that are easy to grab and go. There are sodas, Hot Pockets, bagels and other foods that wouldn’t be classified as healthy. There are no salads or fruits and vegetables. 

You would think that the administration, especially as a community college, would want to make everyone feel inclusive, but when it comes to nutrition, they don’t. 

I choose to follow a whole food plant-based diet, which means I don’t eat processed foods. I choose to be vegan because I care about animals. I also have Crohn’s disease, which limits what I am able to eat. There are vegan meats that I cannot eat because of how processed they are. My system cannot handle it. 

When ARC’s staff and administration consider what food to make available it does not seem that making sure everyone’s dietary needs are met is a priority. 

Also, healthy food should be an option since this is an institution of learning. Sugar and high-fat foods can give a burst of energy but then make you ready for a nap with the loss of the sugar leaving your body.

In 2012 the California Department of Education changed the foods served and available at K-12 schools in response to the 2010 Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act created by Michelle Obama. The CDE has found that foods with high sugar and fats are causing behavioral issues, health issues and learning problems. Yet, in college, students still find that this is the food that is mainly available. 

When you have a digestive issue like Crohn’s or colitis, it can be difficult to find food. The dietary restrictions mean the difference between suffering in pain all day or being able to attend class. Eating the wrong foods could even lead to surgery. 

When most think of diet restrictions, they think of someone wanting to lose weight or having a food allergy, but no one considers the rest who don’t have an option. Eating spicy foods can put me in the hospital. That’s not a choice that I am making. 

I understand ARC has made the cafeteria like a cantina because of COVID-19, but there are better options out there that can be stocked in the cafeteria. The different stores I shop at carry pre-packaged vegan and vegetarian food options.

A couple of examples: Cedar’s makes a pre-packaged black bean salad, Kite Hill has protein dairy-free yogurt. There are hummus and pretzel snack options that are pre-packaged together. ARC does not need to stock these brands. It is just to show that there are other options. The different food options are endless, but ARC has chosen not to include these easy options for everyone. 

Yes, I limit my choice by being vegan, but I do not choose to have a strict dietary restriction that I have to follow to live.  ARC, a community college that receives funds from the government, can make better choices when it comes to nutritional needs.