The popular opinion among on-campus residents is that the food provided by Bon Appétit is not good enough, but these negative voices drown out the aspects that people appreciate. One group that the food affects more than others is student-athletes. With a high level of physical activity, they need more food, and specific types of food, to fuel up. Across sports, athletes analyze the quantity, variety, health and convenience of Lewis & Clark’s food options.
Football player Johnathan Newsome ’23 praises the all-you-can-eat structure of Fields Dining Room.
“I feel like it is such a prime place to eat for athletes just because of the amount you can get,” Newsome said. “It’s just all about balance when you’re an athlete, and I feel like they have the perfect balance there.”
Protein is critical to keep up athletes’ energy reserves, but many lament that the primary protein served is almost always chicken. Swimmer Gillian Watts ’24 spoke on the health ramifications of such a repetitive protein.
“I think we all are aware how much chicken there is,” Watts said. “I do sometimes wish they had healthier options because you get sick and tired of the chicken and then it’s usually like a pasta or burger option, which isn’t the healthiest. I know some people just end up going to the Troom and eating pizza, which is even worse, or eating a protein bar.”
Watts is not alone in her concern about health. Connor Smyth ’24, a hurdler on the track and field team, also thinks that a lack of variety in meat protein is harmful to student athletes.
“I think chicken usually gets the job done, but it’s a little monotonous,” Smyth said. “I think my worst complaint is that when it comes to monotony it makes it harder to get all the food nutrition you need.”
Despite this critique, Smyth thinks highly of the food in general.
“I actually would say that I think it’s a pretty good thing overall because they have a nice variation and it’s nice that there’s stuff that isn’t fast food,” Smyth said.
Fields Dining Room is viewed as the healthier alternative to the Trail Room, considering the whole grain options, salad bar and balanced meals. Additionally, the all-you-can-eat aspect of Fields Dining Room is ideal for athletes. Smyth, who has a hard time getting enough to eat for just one swipe at the Trail Room, states that he eats at Fields Dining Room 100% of the time.
“I’d have chicken most of the time as the main protein, I’d have a source of carbs which would be rice, potatoes or whatever they had for the day, and I’d always grab a bowl of spinach and eat it straight like that,” Newsome said.
Cross country runner Caleb Silverman ’24 asserts the importance of spinach in athletes’ diets.
“Spinach salad is an essential,” Silverman said. “I go to the salad bar every day.”
The salad bar is also one of Watts’s favorite parts of the dining room, in addition to the fruit and yogurt bar. Aside from the quantity and quality of food served, meal scheduling can be an issue for athletes, particularly on the weekends.
“The hours have changed so now it doesn’t open until 11:30 on the weekends which is kind of unfortunate because a lot of sports practices, like the swim team for example, end at 11 a.m., so we have to wait that 30 minute period before we can eat,” Watts said. “Usually we end up eating something else between the brunch and dinner period because you can only swipe in twice. Even if I wanted to have lunch, it’s not like I could swipe in again.”
Silverman agrees that it is difficult to get enough to eat when only two meals a day are served on weekends. Many resort to supplementing their weekend diets with food from grocery stores, but having to cook is far less convenient than eating food included in meal plans.
“I feel like a lot of people aren’t allowed to bring food home if they didn’t finish the plate or if they want to save food for later – they should allow that,” Newsome said.
Overall, athletes feel that Bon Appétit is doing a successful job of providing them with a fairly healthy variety of foods to eat, but more can be done to help aid their diets.