Making food more affordable to students


Tribune News Service Illustration

Casey Anderson, Opinion Editor

Food can be taken for granted – especially at school cafeterias. Walking through the gates of the Truax campus cafeteria, a plethora of options awaits students.

Chefs await behind glass displaying options of assorted hot meals, hurriedly and precisely piecing together meals for hungry students.

Fries, burgers, chicken strips, and savory foods are constantly being funneled right into students’ reach as they slide down onto racks, straight off the grill. Fresh fruit and vegetables await in the refrigerators, along with icy cold beverages and deserts.

Each day, hungry students eagerly await the sights and smells of this cafeteria after a long class period, but not every hungry student can afford to eat there. 

Food insecurity is a well-known topic, but can be embarrassing for some to admit their struggles with. It is an insecurity that sweeps all age groups, discriminating against none. Food insecurity can happen to anyone. It is nothing to be ashamed about. But if we can do something to lessen the struggles of those battling this hardship, we should. Especially for our peers. 

It’s nice to know that Madison College has been taking some steps to help resolve food insecurity on campus – including plans to establish food pantries on all campuses. 

More diverse price options in the existing cafeterias would also be helpful.

Not everyone can afford to load up their OneCard and swipe it for a $7 meal each day. And not everyone can sustain themselves on a 50-cent banana. The Truax cafeteria could make food options available for all budgets.

A way to integrate this into our cafeteria would be by offering simple sandwiches, such as a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, or a turkey sandwich, for a dollar or less. Or possibly even day-old options for foods, marked down at a discount.

There are many ways to make food more accessible to students on low budgets or struggling with food security, but awareness and figuring out options is the first step.

Another possibility could be modeling a system after universities – having each student select a food plan, or none, that gives incentives and discounts with purchases. This food plan could have options that provide very affordable food to students who could otherwise not afford to purchase it every day. The cafeteria already offers a 10 percent discount for students who put money on their OneCard, but meal plans at other colleges seem more generous.

There are plenty of ways to ease the struggles of food insecurity that many face, but first, we need to speak up about it. Food is a necessity that should be affordable for all, especially at an educational institution.