It’s a well-known difficulty that college students have trouble maintaining a healthy diet, and with the recent closure of Morgan Dining Hall, students with meal plans have limited nutritious breakfast options on campus.
Temple students now have to resort to the Esposito Dining Center or campus food courts if they want to use their meal plans.
The Howard Gittis Student Center currently doesn’t offer breakfast and their dining options are closed until 11 a.m. Restaurants and food trucks around campus don’t accept meal swipes, so students’ only option for eating breakfast before 8 a.m. classes is the Esposito Dining Center.
Temple’s Office of Business Services and other campus offices have yet to make a decision on what will happen with the empty space at Morgan, but Temple should consider using the space to add more restaurants that supplement the lack of nutritious breakfast options on campus. The university should also ensure these places open at 7 a.m. so students with 8 a.m. classes have the energy they need to get through the morning.
“No decision has been made on how the 2nd floor dining hall space in Morgan Hall will be used,” the Office of Business Services told the Temple News in an emailed statement. “That decision will be a collaborative effort with other campus partners and university leadership.”
In addition, Temple should guarantee meal swipe friendly breakfast locations on campus during the weekend as the Morgan Hall Food Court is closed and the food court at the Student Center doesn’t open until 11:30 a.m. The Student Center’s Starbucks also doesn’t accept meal equivalencies.
If students want to eat breakfast before class, they could make something at home, go to the Esposito Dining Center, which opens at 7 a.m., wait until restaurants on campus open for lunch or spend extra money in places that don’t take meal equivalencies, all of which defeat the purpose of having a meal plan.
Although Freshëns at the Morgan Hall Food Court opens at 8 a.m., it’s not early enough for all students to eat before classes. One restaurant that takes meal equivalencies alongside Esposito are not enough to satisfy all Temple students.
This year, Temple has added new restaurants around campus, like Panera Bread and Juiced by B. However, Juiced by B is only at the TECH Center during the fall semester and these additions don’t make it easier for all students to get breakfast before classes, because none of them open before 8 a.m. and only Panera takes meal swipes.
Almost 23 percent of undergraduate students struggle with food insecurity, according to a March 2020 study by the Hope Center for College, Community and Justice.
Students experiencing food insecurity might depend on Temple’s dining services, making it essential that Temple offers a wide variety of breakfast options. If the university actively works to make sure students can eat before 8 a.m., then students will be able to maintain a healthy lifestyle with their nutritious options.
Breakfast has a great influence on energy levels, and it’s essential to prevent future health problems, Better Health reported.
“Making sure that students actually have access to food before they begin their day is really for a healthy lifestyle,” said Gina Tripicchio, a social and behavioral sciences professor and research scientist at the Center for Obesity, Research and Education.
Breakfast is especially important for college students because it can have an impact on their academic performance, BBC reported. Additionally, students who eat breakfast before an exam tend to perform better because nutritious, high-quality food can contribute to improved academic performance.
The typical college students’ diet consists of sugar, caffeine and high-calorie meals and it’s up to universities to provide healthy and nutritious options on their campuses, according to StudyFinds, an organization that compiles studies and data.
“Food gives you energy and food gives you nutrients, which are very important for things like focusing, functioning, thinking and getting from class to class,” Tripicchio said.
Students should be fueling their bodies with nutritious food so they are able to tackle the day. It’s also important for students to have a variety of breakfast options available to them so they don’t have to wait until lunch to eat.
Bailey Pincus, a junior health professions major, regularly skips breakfast because of the lack of breakfast options around campus.
“I think the food trucks give us breakfast options, but if you have meal swipes and don’t want to pay physical money or you don’t have cash, then I don’t think the university itself gives us breakfast options,” Pincus said.
Temple needs to ensure breakfast options are available at 7 a.m so students don’t go for prolonged periods of time without any nutritious food, which can lead to intermittent fasting.
Long term fasting is extremely dangerous because it can cause low blood sugar and sleeping problems, CNN reported.
In addition to health issues, a poor diet can have long-term consequences that will impact other aspects of students’ lives, like developing harmful eating habits.
“The things you pick up in college are the routines or the types of foods that you eat are the rituals you acquire and they set the stage for a lot of habits that will continue through adulthood,” Tripicchino said. “[College] is a really important time to promote healthy food intake and learning good dietary habits and routines because it can really set the stage for all adulthood.”
Meal plans cost between $596 and $2,485 and if students are investing their money on a meal plan, they should have easy access to breakfast before going to class.
Pincus often feels frustrated because of the lack of places on campus where she can use her meal plan to get breakfast.
“The only food I really have in my kitchen right now is breakfast food because I know that’s the thing I’m not going to get through the day,” Pincus said. “I feel like now I’m only using [meal swipes] for lunch, I think I’ll have extra by the end of the semester because of that.”
Temple should use the empty space on the second floor of Morgan to ensure there is a variety of nutritious breakfast options open at 7 a.m. that can accommodate students’ dietary needs, while ensuring they can use their meal plans.