UWT students face food accessibility challenges

Associated Students of UW Tacoma’s President Vincent Da’s primary initiative this year is to bring affordable food options on campus. Currently, on-campus options include West Coast Grocery and the Pantry as food resources, along with allowing Charles and Terry to operate in the Mattress Factory. While there is an ample amount of eateries on Pacific Avenue, students are concerned about healthiness and price.

“Besides the Pantry, I feel like we do have a lot of restaurants on campus,” said Cassandra Green, a senior in majoring in Business Administration. “But for a full time student who has bills it’s difficult to find food that I can purchase with nutritional value. The Pantry does offer a variety of food, but it’s also not always my first pick because most of it is processed food or snacks that won’t fill me up.”

Their meal’s nutritional value is a primary concern for students, a few commented on how nutritional value can harm their academic life and career.

“It’s been scientifically proven that healthy lunches make people process and focus better, so

not being able to eat on campus guarantees academic struggles as well,” said junior Politics, Philosophy and Economics major Robyn Levin.

Levin also argues that while UW Tacoma does provide some healthy foods, it is often unavailable. 

“Our most affordable hot food option is only open for extremely limited hours, and when my club meets during lunch hour I can’t get the only cheap lunch on or near campus, which skyrockets the price of food or limits me to snack items from vending machines,” Levin said.

Monetary concerns are echoed throughout the student body regarding food expenses.

“It’s important because most of us are cash strapped and rely on financial aid to such a large extent,” said Zoe LeBeau, a senior Writing Studies major. “Financial Planning 101 says the first thing is to eliminate when you’re on a shoestring budget is eating out, which is literally the only food option available on campus.”

Students have heard varying information on solutions to the affordable food issue on campus. However, most students show favor of having a cafeteria on campus compared to having food trucks parked on site.

When asked about their preference, Green said, “A cafeteria, because we need space to eat the new food provided … Food trucks might not be good because it rains a lot and students will have to wait outside.”

LeBeau also expressed concern over the nutritional and economic value of having food trucks available on campus.

“Food trucks are not going to be more affordable than a cafeteria. Food trucks are just fast food on wheels. The point is we need to stay away from fast food,” said LeBeau.

Foods that LeBeau and Levine recommend on campus would include salad bars, fruits, pastas, sandwiches and cheeseburgers. Green would also like to see more vegetarian and organic options, as well as Asian style dishes.

Students hope food options on campus will change in their favor soon.