By Sarah Lynch
The “freshman fifteen” is a commonly-used expression to describe the seemingly inescapable weight gain freshmen face as they assimilate into collegiate life. With access to an unlimited buffet of treats, grease, and more, students are tasked with managing their own diets, many for the first time.
In reality, the average weight gain for college freshmen is not so egregious and usually lies between two and five pounds, according to US News. But the nutritious choices students make from freshman year through the duration of their college career can drastically impact their long-term health. With Sodexo food services and an on-campus nutritionist, Marist College provides students with options to manage their diets and eat clean.
Gary Coyne, the Food Service Manager for the Sodexo dining team, said Sodexo strives to provide tasteful and nutritious food for students with a variety of dietary concerns.
“We always try to find the most nutritious food that we can to give our students. For example, if you look on the menus there’ll be on all the menus all the ingredients, what they are, the fat content, the calories, what’s in it, and so on and so forth,” Coyne said.
Coyne added that Sodexo is conscientious regarding the quality of food delivered to Marist to ensure its nutritional value.
“Sustainability is what we’re looking for in foods so that we know exactly where they come from, where they’ve been and we keep a record of that from California all the way to New York,” Coyne said. “From...each vendor it stops at we know where it stopped, how long it was there, and how long it took to get here so it’s as fresh as possible.”
Raquelle Rocco, a freshman from Parsippany, New Jersey, said eating clean at Marist is not as difficult as she predicted, even with the temptation of unlimited meals swipes.
“I thought at first, coming here, I was going to be eating like five meals a day....because it’s there all the time. The most I’ve had is three meals a day,” Rocco said. “No matter what, you have the salad bar so if you really want to eat healthy everyday you could.”
Rocco’s peers chimed in requesting a greater variety of fruit, including berries, and vegetables at breakfast.
For students with special diets, the dining hall includes an area called My Zone that includes “7-Allergens-Free hot lunch and dinner free of dairy, soy, nuts, tree nuts, gluten, eggs and shellfish,” according to the Marist Dining Services website. This swipe-access-only kitchen serves bread, desserts, cereals, and gluten-free chicken tenders, french fries, and pizza.
Despite these offerings, some students still have trouble finding dishes that align with their needs. Freshman Katie Kristoff from Colchester, Connecticut, is allergic to fresh fruits and vegetables and said eating healthy at the dining hall is difficult.
“Sometimes [I’ll eat] a sandwich or I’ll go get pizza because that’s convenient, or if I make a salad it’s just lettuce and cran raisins.”
Coyne said Sodexo’s mission is to try to supply everyone “from the vegetarians to the vegans to students who have allergies” with good, wholesome food, though “it’s not always possible on a daily basis.”
“We try to make everything as pleasurable and tasteful as possible,” Coyne said. “That’s what the students want, that’s what the faculty wants, and that’s what the college wants.”