Staff Editorial: Healthier menu in the Café

At Lawrence, there is an emphasis on being mentally, spiritually, and physically healthy; however, healthy eating can be tricky at times. Students who have an all-culinary cash meal plan fall victim to Kaplan’s Grill’s (more commonly known amongst students as the Café) less than healthy options, such as an assortment of fried and fatty foods. Students with dietary restrictions, such as having a plant-based diet, might find their options limited and repetitive at the Café. While some may argue that these students can choose to go to Andrew Commons instead or buy from Kate’s Corner Store, these options cannot replace the convenience and relaxed atmosphere that the Café offers.

Many students prefer the Café when they are rushing between classes, work and other activities and need to grab food to go, especially during peak dining hours in the Commons. Getting meals at the Commons usually takes much longer. Additionally, as the Commons can get much more crowded, getting a clamshell might not be as quick as an option. In terms of cost, the Café could be relatively cheaper; dinner in the Commons costs $11.75 in culinary cash, yet a person could easily spend less for an appropriately sized meal at the Café. As the Café offers a vastly different dining experience and caters to the busy schedule of a Lawrentian, it is imperative that the Café offers at least a comparable variety of options and a healthier diet.

Currently in the Café, there is an abundance of fried foods and very few supposedly fresh fruits or vegetables. The Café offers a limited selection of fruits and vegetables, which are past their prime most of the time. Some of the main courses do have a small amount of vegetables in them, such as burgers and wraps, but it is barely enough to be considered balanced. Some vegetarian options, such as falafel, are fried.

The name, Kaplan’s Grill, was derived from its origin as an informal place where students can get grill items such as burgers, fries and chicken fingers, according to Julie Severance, General Manager of Bon Appétit at Lawrence. As such, it was never intended to be a main source of food for students. While this is still true, times have changed, and it can be easily observed that many students get their main meals of the day here. Severance also mentioned that the Café has been changing according to students’ feedback, with the biggest menu of vegan, vegetarian and healthy options to date yet. However, these changes have yet to catch up with students’ needs. We believe that the Café needs to continually change and improve to cater to the students’ needs, which have evolved significantly since the Café first opened.

Improvements to the nutritional quality of the Café’s menu could be made through collaboration with the Wellness Committee. In a conversation with the Editorial Board, Director of Wellness and Recreation Erin Buenzli welcomed the idea of starting a conversation between staff members and students with Bon Appétit. Buenzli said that although Bon Appétit had been very open to suggestions from the Student Wellness Committee, they have yet to formally ask anyone for help trying to make a healthy, and more inclusive, eating experience.

Lawrence also has more resources for students to learn more about healthy diet and lifestyle. Currently, there is a dietician on staff who is available to students for 30-minute individual appointments every month. An upcoming wellness event, “Dine with a Dietitian” on Jan. 22 in the Commons, will allow students to learn more about healthy eating.

Being physically healthy is a major part of being emotionally healthy. At Lawrence, there has yet to be enough emphasis on healthy eating. We need to see a shift in which eating healthily is just as important as being emotionally and spiritually healthy. If eating healthier is one of your New Year’s resolutions, heed Buenzli’s advice — plan ahead by looking online to see what is being served and go into the Commons with a plan, don’t just eat what looks good.