Eateries on campus are increasingly accommodating healthier food requests to include vegetarian and vegan varieties.
The University Corporation, currently in charge of overseeing all of the food operations on campus, aims to provide convenient, healthy and reasonably-priced meals for students, faculty and staff, according to Betsy Corrigan, associate director of campus dining.
“What makes us unique is that we do three services of our different meals: breakfast, lunch and dinner,” said Julie Pullen, residential dining general manager. “All of that contains scratch-made food for our buffet line.”
Popular restaurants at CSUN include the Marketplace, Arbor Grill, Orange Grove Bistro, Subway and Geronimo’s, the university’s residential buffet-style restaurant.
With the exclusion of Subway, these restaurants make most of their menu items from scratch in their own kitchens. A variety of meals are also prepared to order including salads, pastas and sandwiches. Subway prepares most of its produce as well as baking breads on-site, said Tim Killops, associate director of facilities.
“Subway is always looking for ways to stay ahead of the market in terms of healthy options,” Killops said. “They are trying to stay on the leading edge in terms of what people are looking for in healthy options.”
According to Mike Lennon, associate director of retail operations, CSUN uses two vendors, US Food Service and Nature’s Produce, to provide most of the food served. Both deliver fresh produce, breads and meats to locations on campus daily.
“They have many choices to choose from and when we need new items they’ll go out and source them,” Lennon said.
Student demand for healthier food is heard in several ways. The University Corporation compiles focus groups, provides surveys and comment cards, and has a secret shopper program to better assist them with getting feedback on their food. Specials that appear on menus can, with extensive feedback, become permanent items.
“Even in a place like Arbor Grill, where people think of as burgers and pizzas, we have a lot of healthy options and we are going to keep on trying to add to that so that people go into these places with an option to buy healthy food,” Lennon said.
Although organic food products are not available all throughout campus, they can be found at some on campus locations, according to Corrigan.
Sydney Nishida, 19, a sophomore psychology major, said she sees healthy options on campus but thinks there could be more choices offered.
“I know the Marketplace has a salad bar and they have soup but in the Bookstore area they have Burger King and El Pollo Loco and I know that’s not that healthy of a choice. There could be more options for us overall,” she said.
While there is no plan to serve only organic food on campus, Corrigan said they would like to add more when the prices of organic produce comes down so that they don’t have to incorporate this increase into customer prices.
All of the mixed greens available for salads are organic as well as a variety of coffees and teas found at each of the Freudian Sip locations.
“We will continue to add organic foods into our kitchens and retails operations especially as prices begin to soften based on demand,” Corrigan said.
Based on the plan to increase student housing, Geronimo’s will expand and take over the Shoshone Room at the Satellite Student Union. They will be creating a Pan-Asian menu including Indian, Korean and Thai cuisine, as well as preparing sushi. It is something that has not been done yet in regard to residential dining. This development will be completed in 2015.