Expand nutritional access to all students

Faith DuFresne, Columnist

Dining halls are full of options for new students, but trying to find the “right” food is an entirely new challenge. On campus, UT has an all-inclusive resource, the Texas Athletics Nutrition Center, that promotes healthy eating and quality nutrition. However, access is restricted to student-athletes.

UT must expand University Health Services dietitian services to include those offered in the TANC to promote health and well-being equally across the entire UT community.

The TANC provides athletes with consultations, cooking demonstrations and grocery store tours, as well as in-person food coaching and nutrition education. Athletes are given the opportunity to learn more about nutrition and healthy eating through an individualized approach. The rest of the student body is not even given that option.

UHS dietitian services provide virtual workshops where students can ask questions about meal planning, grocery shopping, cooking and emotional eating. However, these services are not the same as those offered to student-athletes. Athletes are offered an incredibly personalized approach and a much wider array of nutritional guidance. Though it is understandable that this is especially important for athletes, all students deserve to have the same opportunities to support their health, no matter their status within UT.

John Bianco, senior associate athletics director, explained in an email statement why these services are currently closed to non student-athletes.

With our COVID-19 protocols in place … it is only available to student-athletes, coaches and athletics team staffs at this time,” Bianco said. “We will continue to re-evaluate reopening to the general public at some point.”

While it is permissible that athletes are given these resources considering their physical requirements, all students should have access to equal resources for learning about the value of nutrition and a healthy lifestyle. The limitation of these services from the TANC center for the sake of COVID-19 protocols is understandable and necessary to protect staff and students alike. However, that should not limit the extension of these services into UHS dietitian workshops.

Business honors freshman Nevaeh Galvan shared her hopes to see the services expanded to all students.

“I hope that UT will take the initiative to make all students feel just as valued as athletes considering that we all come to the same school for an education,” Galvan said. “I hope they would extend the same opportunities to us even though we’re not athletes.”

Discrepancies between the care and treatment of student-athletes and other students shouldn’t be allowed. Each and every student has something to offer to the UT community and in turn, deserves the same care and respect from UT. 

Expanding the TANC nutritional resources so they are included in the dietitian services offered to all students would promote well-being and overall health for all students, not just the ones that play on the court or the field. 

DuFresne is a journalism freshman from Dallas, Texas.