EDITORIAL: Nutritional information should be provided for food served on campus

Nutritional information is not readily available to Saddleback students (Anibal Santos)

Lariat Staff

If one enters the cafeteria in the Student Services Center building and asks the manager for a copy of nutritional information for the food served there, he or she might be surprised to find out he can not provide any.

Nutritional information should be readily available to students for food served at Saddleback and Irvine Valley Colleges. The Lariat has been actively seeking out this information from the cafeteria and Saddleback Student Health Center for weeks, to no avail. The Lariat was told by the manager of the cafeteria to contact the owner of S&B Foods for nutritional information.

The Lariat contacted owner of S&B Foods Roy McDonald by phone and finally got a response. He said that he has provided food to 14 colleges and has never had to provide nutritional information before.

“Nobody’s ever asked me for the nutrition information,” McDonald said.

However, McDonald told the Lariat he is fully capable of calculating nutritional information for his products. He said he will produce nutritional information for the Lariat Staff and Saddleback.

Regardless of this, a student should not have to jump through hoops contacting corporate offices to simply find out what they are putting in their bodies.  The closest the Lariat has received before we got in touch with McDonald, was a “nutritional value chart” that was part of a proposal from S&B Foods when they bid Saddleback for services in 2012. The Lariat received this in an email from Grants and Contracts Manager Roxanne Metz. The chart only provides information for a few select items and is of questionable accuracy.

One of the main issues with this chart is that cholesterol is stated in grams rather than milligrams. For example, the chart states that S&B Foods’ cheese omelet contains 215 grams of cholesterol. Although this is likely a typo, other calculations appeared to be incorrect as well.

“The chl in their abbreviation for cholesterol and should be stated in mg. These calculations don’t appear to be very accurate, though,” Professor of Nutrition Suzanne Hewitt said. “I do believe one can choose items for a healthier meal anywhere.”

According to Metz, Saddleback’s contract with S&B foods “indicates a requirement for ‘health conscious selections,’ but it does not specify a requirement for providing nutritional information.”

Why is there no requirement for providing nutritional information? More importantly, how does Saddleback know that they are being provided “health conscious selections” if they are not receiving nutritional information? If all they are looking at are these proposals from S&B Foods, then they are clearly not looking very closely.

According to U.S. News, several colleges implemented nutritional charts in their cafeterias in 2011.  Among these were Northwestern University, North Carolina State University, University of South Carolina, and University of Connecticut. They also mention that some colleges use digital displays to provide nutritional information, like Miami University, which offers “interactive kiosks for students who want to see just how many calories they’ve put on their tray.”

Nutritional charts would be a useful resource to many Saddleback College students. Students struggling with health concerns such as diabetes or obesity may need these charts if they choose to eat food provided on campus. Even students without health concerns could use nutritional charts in order to select healthier food choices.

Bruce Nelson, a 44-year-old psychology major, said that having nutritional information would “give us the option to choose if we want to eat the food or not.”

Saddleback College needs to implement nutritional charts for food served on campus, as it would be a very valuable resource to students on campus. Many other colleges have taken the initiative, why can’t Saddleback?