The healthy options in our café are abysmal. Controversial statement of the year, right? Normally I wouldn’t ruminate on such things—if I’m to be honest my usual orders at Kaplan’s Café consist of some Meat ft. Greasy Side—but in the past few weeks, after several Lawrentians reiterated the point, something clicked. Our café has the nutritional diversity of a McDonalds. I think this can be easily fixed.
Think about it: the only vegetable they consistently serve is lettuce, every side’s primary ingredient is grease, and everything comes with cheese. To be fair, that last one may be the result of geography more than Bon Appétit’s culinary decisions.
This shouldn’t be the reality of the situation. While it’s easy enough to use Andrew Commons as the go-to punching bag on campus, it has whole lines with healthy options. Long gone are the days of public school ‘healthy choice’ mystery meats plus canned fruits, replaced by locally sourced produce and tofu. Perhaps that’s why the absence of healthy options in the café is so strange. If Bon Appétit can provide plenty of healthy options downstairs, they should be able to provide them three floors up.
It can be tempting to conclude from division that no change is necessary. If a Lawrentian wants a healthy meal, they can go to the cafeteria. Further, the trade-off for a fast meal at a convenient time is that the choices will decrease. I would be fine with that if the cost was fewer choices, but that’s a problem when so few of the meals are healthy. I shouldn’t even have to use the phrase “healthy alternatives” when talking about our food like it’s inferior, but we even lack those at the café.
For many students convenience is a necessity, not a choice. Lawrentians are busy bunch; we study, commit ourselves to way too many extra-curriculars and sleep at strange hours. Because of schedules that prevent meals in the Commons, the café’s convenient hours and Lawrence’s requirement that we live on campus all four years, the café is a practically unavoidable option. Under such conditions, the café must consistently offer healthy options.
Fortunately, I think Bon Appétit could do a few simple things to expand and streamline the healthy options they provide. All meals with bread could offer the option of whole grain as the default, and the pastry selection could be expanded to include whole grain muffins. The side menu could be expanded to include popular fruits from downstairs like pineapple, cantaloupe and honeydew. Carrots and other snack vegetables could also be provided. The sides we choose from shouldn’t just be whatever is deep-fried or covered in cheese.
I think many of the main hot courses could be tweaked or changed altogether to offer healthier, leaner options. A fish cut, or any other lean meat, with some asparagus would be great. Additionally, the café could increase awareness of substitutions like tofu and rice. Convenience often follows the simplest route; if students know about healthy options, they’re unlikely to ask about them if it’s 10pm and they have yet to eat.
Obviously these aren’t the only changes that could be made, but they would be a great start to distinguish our café from every other fast food chain in Appleton. If anyone has any other ideas or agrees with what I’ve said, please let Bon Appétit know. Based on my past experiences with their management, they seem like receptive people.