Skyler Sympkins ’23
This school year saw the closure of the Cave, which was most people’s principal grocery store on campus. The Cave never had a huge variety, but it had just enough for the average college student. With the closure of the Cave, many students have been left without a place to buy snacks for their dorm room. Outtakes at Mather has helped ease this missing segment by carrying most of the typical college snacks, but never has Trinity provided for students who want organic, healthy snacks, or students who just want normal groceries without the trans fats. This is the missing piece to Trinity’s food services: groceries.
Students must see to other means to have these goods delivered to them. Whether through Amazon or services like Shipt, students must search to find ways to get their groceries. Travel has been banned except for essential trips, often backing students into a corner. Students who want to travel to Target or Whole Foods and grab some healthy food for their dorm avoid doing so out of fear of repercussions. The severity of these repercussions, no one knows. Trinity needs to acknowledge this missing piece and instead of closing the principal location on campus for students to grab some in-dorm snacks, provide students access to groceries–on-campus or off.
Ensuring the health of students is essential during COVID, and the best way to do this is to provide students access to healthy foods and snacks instead of restricting them to what meal swipes can buy. Allowing students to buy and use healthy ingredients not only produces a healthier student population but a student population knowledgeable of ingredients and nutrition. Also, buying ingredients and compiling them into microwaveable-safe recipes allows students to take interest in their food. Health-consciousness should be a goal for all of us nowadays; when allowing students to buy healthy groceries and ingredients, they become healthier as they are actively cognizant of what they are ingesting.
What are some methods Trinity could use to safely provide students with an outlet for healthier eating? There are a couple of ways. First, Trinity could invite a grocer to campus. Second, Trinity could provide resources for students’ transportation to grocery stores. Personally, I believe the first method is the best, but it will be much more costly upfront for the school. Since the Cave is now closed, Trinity could renovate the back portion of the cave to encompass a fully stocked grocery store with much more than chips and microwavable pizza rolls. The front portion of the Cave is already modeled in a way that makes stocking groceries easy, so only the back of the Cave would have to be remodeled.
Trinity must provide actual healthy ingredients instead of an assortment of microwave meals. Trinity could also print out flyers with recipes safe to make in the microwave, so all students can access these healthy, homemade recipes. Providing students with an on-campus grocery store will promote a healthier campus in many ways. For one, students will remain on campus and not be required to leave to go grocery shopping elsewhere and two, students will be cognizant of what foods they are digesting: the calories and the nutritional value.
Remodeling can take time and a lot of money, however, so another option Trinity could introduce is transportation cash. Buses at Trinity can take you to grocery stores, but the safety of public transportation in today’s world is questionable at best. To ensure the safety of Trinity students, transportation cash could be introduced as a way to transport students without a large, crowded bus. Each semester, Trinity could provide students with money to buy transport by Uber or Lyft. This money could be given to students biweekly to ensure that students do not abuse the money and use it for goods other than transportation. Trinity could also partner with Uber or Lyft and provide all students with discounts for those services while they are enrolled at Trinity.
If Trinity wanted to avoid rationing out transportation money to students or partnering with a transportation service, Trinity could itself begin a personal transport service. Trinity would hire individual drivers who would operate within a couple of hours each day and by appointment. Students would book times to be picked up and be escorted to the grocery store or other essential place. Student travel groups could be limited to protect the safety of both the students and the drivers. Bantam bucks could be accepted as payment, allowing students a quick and easy way to pay for almost everything at Trinity. Whether a personalized travel system or transportation rations, Trinity could experiment with many ways to bring healthy eating to campus.
Aside from the health precautions we must take amidst a pandemic, Trinity students and other college students in general struggle with eating disorders at a large percentage. By providing students with more food options than just what happens to be carried at Mather, students will have a larger array of food from which to choose. With more options, students struggling with eating disorders will be able to choose healthier options instead of eating nothing at all. Health is a major concern amidst a pandemic and in college. Trinity must jump ahead of these concerns by offering more and healthier foods for students to eat in their dorm room or to make themselves. Students might feel guilty grabbing food in Mather, so providing groceries to make healthy meals in your dorm will make self-conscious students feel much more comfortable in their skin and will allow healthier food options for individuals who feel guilty even looking at a serving of pasta.
College is a time for self-exploration, and I believe it should also be a time where students find the healthier equivalent of themselves. Limiting food and travel hinders students’ abilities to experiment with healthy, homemade foods. Health must be figured out early so we all can figure out a healthy lifestyle to fulfill our individual dreams and passions in the healthiest way possible. College is the perfect time to set ourselves up for success both with respect to knowledge and health.
By providing different outlets for culinary experimentation, Trinity will set its students up for success. Further, with Trinity only providing the utensils, students will individually visualize and in turn initiate the process to a healthy and productive college experience. Let the students try the vegan cookies or the pizza-in-a-cup microwave recipe as they are beginning their journey to identify the life they want to lead. Trinity should either provide transportation funds, develop personalized transportation services, partner with transportation services, or remodel the no-longer-used Cave into a grocery store in order to give students the chance to initiate a healthier lifestyle.