Students express dissatisfaction with healthful options at Bruff

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Catherine Fennell | Photography Editor

Students have criticized the lack of variety of healthful dining options at Bruff.

What makes dining at Bruff Commons difficult for freshman Jack Forrest is “[that] there’s just no variety.”

Forrest is not alone in this opinion. A lack of variety is a common criticism echoed by many students who dine at Bruff. Among the students who said they were frustrated with the lack of variety, some said they thought it was more than just an annoyance but, in fact, has made eating healthfully harder.

“The hours are perfect, and the convenience factor is great, but it is hard for those who are trying to eat healthy to find the exact foods they want,” freshman Owen Belnap said.

Students in search of healthier options may find themselves in the Orleans Room, Loyola University’s dining hall, commonly known to Tulane students as “Luff.” Its modern aesthetic provides a contrast to the linoleum of Bruff, and there is a common suspicion that this is not all that distinguishes the two.

Some Tulane students said they believed the Orleans Room is more healthful than Bruff. While acknowledging the subjectivity of “health,” however, Jose Fuentes, Sodexo’s regional marketing specialist for universities, said this is not entirely true.

“Bruff is actually one of the healthiest options on any campus, even compared to Loyola,” Fuentes said.

Many Tulane students see things differently. In food groups or at stations where there is variety, these students say, there simply are not healthful options.

“[At Bruff] there’s only one rotating station that rotates on a frequent basis, and it’s usually unhealthy food,” Forrest said.

According to Fuentes, labeling may be at fault for Bruff’s stigma.

“One of the things we have to do is simple changes that will really identify … the [healthful] options that are at Bruff,” Fuentes said. “That’s the step that we have to do better at.”

Perceived quality of healthful options at Bruff is another reason some students say Bruff does not meet their standards of healthy eating. Belnap said disparities in the appeal of healthful versus non-healthful foods can impact his eating choices.

“I am more likely to eat pizza than a salad since the pizza is more average, yet the salad is sub-par,” Belnap said.

Kelsey Rosenbaum, district campus dietitian for Sodexo, referred to Sodexo’s Mindful program when asked about the efforts made by Bruff and Sodexo to provide healthful options for students.

“The Mindful program is a Sodexo-wide program … all about making the healthy choice the easy choice,” Rosenbaum said.

According to the Mindful website, Mindful meals meet strict criteria that limit, for example, the amount of saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium in a meal. Rosenbaum also said both Bruff and the Orleans Room are Mindful gold certified, meaning they meet various healthful-eating criteria.

“For instance, over 50 percent of our cereals are whole grain,” Rosenbaum said of one of the Mindful gold certification standards. “There [are] about 40 different criteria that we meet.”

The efforts made by Sodexo to provide healthful choices for students have not been sufficient in the eyes of many who have found their options exhausted at Bruff.

Fuentes acknowledged the underlying issue lies in a disparity that needs to be recognized and tackled.

“Instead of addressing the conflict and the difference of opinions, let’s address the core of the definition of what is healthy to the student,” Fuentes said.

Fuentes stressed the importance of student feedback to formulating a response to student concerns. One such system of communication between Tulane students and Sodexo is the Student Advisory Council, which is made up of Tulane students who meet twice a month with representatives from Tulane’s dining areas, including Bruff.

Though Sodexo has made efforts to address student needs, there still seems to remain a gap between what many students want and what Bruff provides.