Why HBCU Cafeteria’s Need More Healthier Meal Options

CJ1O-LPVEAA-u8VUpon graduating from high school I found that I wanted to attend an HBCU for may reasons but most importantly wanting to gain an experience that I wouldn’t have at a PWI. Nothing against PWI’s because my parents and brother went to one but realistically my basketball scholarship was a key component in my ultimate decision. Nevertheless once I committed to Virginia Union University, just know I committed to it and it was no turning back. All I can remember was walking into my dorm and there was no central air conditioning and my basketball locker room was the size of my bathroom back at my parent’s house. Yet of course, I had to remind myself,” look Gab this is all apart of the HBCU experience, so make the best of it”. Although when I walked into the cafe I found myself in shocked at what they offered to their students on a daily basis.

The menu was as followed: Monday–Thursday it was burgers, fries, sandwiches and pasta yet Friday was “Fried Chicken Friday”. And as you can imagine that Saturday and Sunday was a Soul Food throw down. The only semi healthy option they provided was a wilted salad bar with a limited selection of dressings and toppings. Now I can say there were days that I wasn’t as disappointed in my meals. However as a student-athlete I did get healthier meals during the season but it wasn’t year round nor offered to the entire student body. This raised a lot of questions in my mind because the SGA would promote programs to advocate healthy lifestyles but weren’t putting funding into renovating or developing a functional fitness center or food options.

Ask any health expert and they will tell you that, weight loss is based on 80% diet and 20% physical activity. Research has proven this to be factual yet unfortunately the knowledge of diet & nutritional awareness at historically black colleges is lacking. According to State of Obesity African American adults are nearly 1.5 times as likely to be obese compared with White adults. 69% of African American men are obese or overweight and 82% of African American women are obese or overweight. Marketing surveys and polls suggest that due to income and geographic location play a primary part in this. Which makes you think, what local business and neighborhoods surround these institutions?

On the flip side of things many HBCU’s have partnered up with various fast-food chains such as McDonald’s, Panera, Five Guys and Chipotle to name a few. At many PWI’s they have more healthier options, such as; Beefsteak, Chop’t, Sweetgreen and Potbelly. Granted students are able to use the “campus card” at their local grocery store but for those who don’t have access to a kitchen ultimately results to snacking on junk food. If you are one of the many students that are experiencing this, Log on and subscribe to Galexandra.com for healthy recipes and tips on proper snacking and daily workout regimes at . The website specializes in special dietary needs just in case for those who have restricted diets or those who enjoy balanced meals.

Over the past 4 years our First Lady has made it her priority to launch several campaigns that encouraged healthier lifestyles such as “Move Your Body” featuring Beyonce. Since then, there has been a dramatic difference in the overall communities but hasn’t seem to have any impact on the HBCU campuses. Fitness is very important but what you feed your body is a direct response to your daily function. Until there is enough raised concern about the risk of diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity with African-Americans it will continue to be the silent killer for many millennial’s at HBCU’s.

Me, @ Virginia Union University