Some administrators are concerned with healthy eating practices for students, but on-campus dining does not reflect that. J Street, which is the first introduction students have with campus dining, disincentivizes healthy eating.
The food is expensive and does not match the quality of other on-campus options. Even a bottle of water at J Street costs more than double the cost of a bottle of water at Whole Foods. And the price for an apple is significantly higher than other campus venues like the GW Deli, Gallery Place in Ivory Tower and Foggy Bottom Grocery Store.
And unlike many other venues, J Street does not display nutritional facts for every eatery. There are nutrition facts listed separately for some options, like the pizza at Pesto, the foods at Thyme and the hot and vegan bars, but for every item.
The University should add calorie counts to every J Street menu. It would be a tangible step toward promoting positive health and educating students about food choices. Giving students the option to see calorie counts before they buy food could influence their choices.
This practice is common at eateries across the country. Campus restaurants like Au Bon Pain and Potbelly’s Sandwich Shop, which take GWorld, also offer calorie counts.
Associate Dean Tim Miller has started a campaign to teach students how to make healthier choices while in college. Miller’s initiative will consist of cooking classes and weight loss seminars to help students live healthier lifestyles.
A calorie count would complement Miller’s initiative, which is commendable.
As a result, students would be able to see how many calories they consume with every cheeseburger or sushi roll they buy, potentially pushing them into healthier habits. It would be a simple way to spark awareness and encourage students to eat healthy foods on a daily basis.
This addition would benefit J Street as well: Examining the calorie count and supply and demand for certain foods would help campus dining officials understand students' preferences and tailor offerings accordingly.
Every year, J Street faces student complaints, whether it is regarding the poor food quality or high prices.
A staggering 29.2 percent of college students were overweight or obese in 2011, according to the American College Health Association. And while it’s not a complete solution, a calorie count could go a long way in helping raise awareness of healthy eating options on campus.
This editorial was updated Feb. 12, 2013 to reflect the following:
This editorial has been updated to reflect that some eateries at J Street do display nutritional values, but all do not.