Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

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October 4, 2022

Co-op market doesn’t cut it

On a recent evening, my roommate and I were commiserating about our freshman year weight gain. We are both now juniors, and still, so to speak, working our asses off to get rid of that weight.

Of course I could blame the late night Kerbey Lane runs or the Girl Scout cookie table set up in front of PCL, but there is more to the matter than a couple of cookies here and there.

Despite earnest efforts from the Division of Housing and Food Service to inform students about the peril of the infamous Freshman 15, weight gain during freshman year of college remains a sizeable subject.

It is clear that the lack of groceries for sale and inconvenient hours of campus dining centers are to blame.

The only two cafeteria-style dining options on campus are Kinsolving Market and J2 Dining. At J2 Dining, facilities close at 7:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, while at Kinsolving Dining, facilities close at 7:00 p.m. These are simply not convenient hours for students with busy schedules and late afternoon classes.

The only option for evening dining is Jester City Limits, which closes at 11:00 p.m. Monday through Thursday — and for students (particularly female students) living in the Whitis area community, hiking across campus at night for dinner is not the safest option.

The wise RA would suggest keeping some healthy meals stocked in your dorm room for those occasions — more often than not in my case — when you are delayed studying past the cafeteria hours. So you head to one of the on-campus “markets” to stock up. Your fruit options: apples, bananas, oranges, and if you’re lucky, a pear. Available vegetables: carrot sticks or a prepared salad.

The Co-op Market on the Drag opened in the fall of 2011 in response to these very complaints — but it is hardly a dietary salvation to the nutrient-deprived student with its overpriced upscale yogurt and convenience store feel.

Don’t get me wrong, I am grateful that the University Co-op took the initiative to open a grocery-ish option for on-campus students. Upon visiting the Co-op Market earlier this week, I found that they did indeed have more fruit options than the on-campus markets – they sell grapes!

The H-E-B on 41st Street is, by far, the best grocery option for on-campus students with its reasonable prices and greater selection of healthy food. But what is the point of paying for Dine-in Dollars and Bevo Bucks, as is required for on-campus students, if you don’t use them for the dining options available?

“The biggest problem for me was the payment plan,” says Cassie Shankman, a busy music student who lived at Jester and Duren dorms before moving off campus this year. “You only have so much money to allot for the year, and you have to use that carefully. Every time you go to the cafeteria it costs money just to get in, so you only go once and you load up on as much food as possible. You can’t take away food, so you’re reliant on the on-campus markets for snacks and your other meals – and there aren’t that many healthy options. Sure, you can live that way, but you’re going to gain weight.”

Weight gain is an increasingly pervasive topic on college campuses, and a sensitive one at that. The Division of Housing and Food Service and the University Health Services are already doing an outstanding job of combatting weight gain in dorm students. But there is more to be done if students are still gaining weight despite increased nutritional awareness.

One option is to place calorie labels on every food available on campus for consumption. Currently, there are no nutrition labels placed on prepared foods available in campus markets that are marketed for individual sale. Cafeterias should also place caloric values on every item available in the cafeteria. Another option is to extend cafeteria hours for those with full schedules. The DHFS could also consider an unlimited access meal plan or a numbered visit meal plan like many universities employ.

Simply put, it’s time for the Division of Housing and Food Service and the University Health Services to take some action on a problem that has become well-known on campuses across the country. We students appreciate their efforts to date — but they’re not enough.

Mathis is a musicology and English major from Denton.

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Co-op market doesn’t cut it