This story is part two of a series on Campus Dining.
Eating one meal a day is unhealthy, but for more than half of resident undergraduate students at Stony Brook University, a balanced diet may mean an unbalanced budget.
Tina Tiernan, Stony Brook University’s registered dietitian, wrote in an email that in order to maintain a healthy lifestyle, one should “eat three meals a day along with snacks.”
Tiernan said those meals should include three out of the five food groups (fruits, vegetables, grains, dairy and protein) and snacks should include two out of the five food groups.
“Skipping meals deprives us of the opportunity to fuel our body efficiently,” Tiernan wrote. “Depending on the type of food consumed, it may be hard to meet vitamin and mineral requirements through one or even two meals a day.”
Tieran suggested for a more nutritious choice, students investigate Roth Market Fresh and order grilled fish with a side of vegetables and brown rice. The cost of a 5-ounce portion of blackened catfish is $8.80. The cost of a 4-ounce side of broccoli is $3.43 and the cost of a 4-ounce side of brown rice is also $3.43. Without any combo deals, the total cost of this nutritious choice is $15.66. If students on the bronze plan continued to spend $15.66 per day, they would run out of money approximately five weeks before the end of the semester.
Joan Stollberger, a registered dietitian in Smithtown, N.Y., said a balanced diet should consist of four to six small meals per day in order for an individual’s metabolism to run properly.
Three of those meals should consist of healthy proteins, ideally turkey or fish, good carbohydrates and fruits or vegetables. Stollberger said if possible, breakfast should be eaten as early as one can manage, lunch should be the most substantial meal of the day, and dinner should be kept light, but that college students may not always be in the position to abide by this regimen.
“Your brain uses one-third of the carbohydrates you take in a day,” David Karpf, a senior health sciences major and treasurer of the Stony Brook Strength Club, who recently began working at the Campus Recreational Center as the weight room coordinator, said. “You need to eat when you study. I don’t think people realize that.”
Karpf transferred to Stony Brook in the spring of 2013 and lived in both Roosevelt and Kelly Quad until the fall semester of 2014, when he decided to move into the university’s West Apartments. He said his decision to relocate was influenced primarily by the fact he was unable to cook his own meals in either residence hall, since he did not live in a designated “cooking” building. When he lived in Roosevelt and Kelly, Karpf used the silver plan and stayed on budget mainly by eating late at night while he “intermittently fasted” during the day.
“The cost per calorie on this campus is exorbitant,” Karpf said, who now uses the university’s “apartment duplex” meal plan, which costs only $500 per semester, as a backup.
The 2014-2015 rate for a double room at West Apartments, the room Karpf currently occupies, is $4,021, while the rate for a double room in a residence hall is $3,776. During his time spent in Roosevelt, Karpf not only paid for a double room, but also paid for his silver meal plan. Had Karpf maintained this living arrangement into the 2014-2015 academic year, his total cost for both meal plan and room would be $5,824.
Kylie Campanelli, a sophomore sustainability studies major who practices a vegan diet and subscribes to the bronze meal plan has also encountered difficulty meeting her specific dietary needs and staying on budget. Campanelli said she exhausted her meal points for the fall semester and purchased food both on and off campus with the money she makes as a barista at the Student Union Starbucks.
“I do see a really big effort from Stony Brook to try and accommodate to vegans and vegetarians,” Campanelli said. “But it’s just that it’s all so expensive that it doesn’t matter if you give me those options. I can’t afford them.”
Julia Martinez, a junior majoring in linguistics, abides by a strict kosher diet and subscribed to the bronze meal plan during her freshman and sophomore year. No longer on the plan since moving into a “cooking” building, Martinez can purchase food off campus to prepare in her dorm, which is equipped with a stove and oven.
But prior to that, she said, choosing the bronze plan came down to its price, though practicing the religiously restrictive diet left her funds strained. A single turkey wrap at Delancey Street, SBU’s strictly kosher dining facility, costs $9.13.
“I went hungry a lot last year because it was so difficult to eat,” Martinez said.
To read part one of this series, click here.