Get whole foods without spending a whole paycheck: weighing the options

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By Samantha Sack, Contributor

An array of students come to the University of Nebraska at Omaha with an unrealistic expectation that monumental college experiences are about to ensue. To their dismay, it’s obvious that there isn’t always a party to go to, sometimes girls have boyfriends and worst of all, the freshman fifteen actually exists. Unfortunately, gaining pounds doesn’t only apply to the newcomers; old habits die hard, even for seniors, and eating well isn’t always easy. That’s particularly the case, Food Services manager Wyatt Stuard argues, if the student doesn’t know how to eat healthily. “A lot of students don’t know how those preservatives and the chemicals [of processed foods] harm you physiologically,” Stuard said. “The benefits of whole foods is an important message to get out there.” It’s a message that Food Services conveys with every new uploaded menu. Graduate Program Assistant for student wellness Derek McBride, types out a snippet or paragraph of information for students to read in order to inform themselves about the topic. Although not entirely a nutrition-guru, I’m all for the organic and natural lifestyle; I often venture into Whole Foods Market and ignore the escalated price signs on a package of chia seeds or celery. All of their products are great when my wallet permits. Keep in mind, though, I am a currently unemployed, debt-ridden college kid who is tempted by the constant lure of $0.89 ramen over a healthful $6.99 salmon salad. Food Services recognizes that most of our bank accounts are about as low as the temperature this time of year, but they don’t put expenses over wellness. For example, over the years, the Milo Bail Student Center has transitioned into using more whole foods rather than denatured
or processed foods, according to Stuard. “Using whole foods has been going on for a while, but it hasn’t been conveyed to students really,” Stuard said. “I think there’s been a disconnect in the past with what Food Services
have been trying to do and the interaction level with the students to let them know what we’re doing.” Whole foods have been used for a while, and students haven’t really noticed a price increase. In reality,
whole foods are cheaper for Food Services to purchase than the alternative, pre-packaged and processed meals. That doesn’t mean that those meals are easier to make. “If we bought pizza shells or sauce
that we didn’t have to make here, it would bring up the price of ingredients,” Stuard said. “The labor it takes to make the meal without [processed ingredients], in the end, costs a little more. It’s not a significant
amount though.” Thus, the meals are ever-so-slightly more expensive due to the labor it takes to cut the fries fresh or mix pure pizza dough. McBride agrees that it’s worth it in the end. “We are trying to make wholesome,
nutritious foods that makes [students] feel better through their days and help them do better in school,” McBride said. “We want students to know that we care about them, that we want to make their lives better.” Food Services is always looking to continue evolving, but request the help from students to come up with some of those ideas. “I want to be approachable, so that students feel comfortable coming up to me with suggestions or tips for us to try out,” Stuard said.

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