Approve or Disapprove?

If I took a poll, I would estimate over 50% of the students would say the food at Cal Poly needs to be vastly improved.  In the core of campus, there are a variety of restaurants students can choose from.  Open for dinner are 19 Metro Station and VG Cafe where students can use their meal plans.  The Avenue, BackStage Pizza, and Sage Restaurant are open as well, but take plus dollars instead of meals.


BackStage Pizza is one of the restaurants students can use their plus dollars at.

Every week there are specials at Metro and VG’s.  The different stations at Metro are:

Field of Greens
Homeward Bound
The Grill
Italian Station
Pacific Rim

VG’s has a similar layout to Metro.  Considering the different food stations and weekly special options, it would be hard to imagine students would disapprove of the food.

My roommates and I usually opt for Metro Station over VG’s due to a better variety of food, and the food also tastes relatively better.  “On a scale from one to ten, I’d say the food at Cal Poly is a two,” said Julia Core, a first year psychology major.  “The food is not nutritious at all; I usually get a salad, Odwalla, and water all day everyday.”

A Pesto Pasta Dinner

Salads seem to be a popular choice among the students I talked to; one of the reasons being because the other food is so unhealthy.  From the online nutrition menu Cal Poly Dining provides, the following is for a pasta dinner with pesto sauce:

Total serving size: 23.5 ounces
Calories in pasta (enriched wheat) with no sauce : 728
Calories in pesto sauce: 812

Choose fettuccine, penne, or rigatoni

Looking selectively at the calories for a pesto pasta dinner, a student can expect to intake a whopping 1500 calories!  This dinner is almost enough for the 2,000 calories a day recommendation most nutrition facts are based on.  DETERMINE: PESTO PASTA- HEALTHY OR UNHEALTHY?

Eating dinner at Metro Station, I met Mark Starritt.
Me: What do you usually order at Metro?
Mark: Salad, orange chicken, or pasta (with marinara sauce of course).
Me: Did you know how bad the pesto pasta is for you?
Mark: Yeah, and not only is the pesto bad for you, it doesn’t taste like pesto either.

“Stay simple.  The more complicated the name, the worse the food gets.” -Mark Starritt


Mark recommends keeping with simple food names: tortellini or ravioli.  “My friends at San Jose State University go into their cafeterias and by swiping their card, they have an unlimited meal.  We are very limited at Cal Poly for what we pay.” My friends over at the University of California, Los Angeles have the same unlimited deal.  At an athlete’s standpoint this can be frustrating.

Athlete’s Standpoint

Swimmer Austin Cade agrees with Mark’s thinking that you don’t get enough for what you pay for.  “After swim practice we’re all usually hungry and want to keep up the calories and recharge.  The first quarter I ran out of plus dollars [with the highest plus dollar plan], ran out of two hundred express dollars, and lost six pounds.”

Austin usually gets the special at the grill or the chicken sandwich and fruit.  “I don’t mind the taste of them, but I do try for a balanced diet.”

“The food is bad, but I try to sample everything- mix it up.” -Austin Cade

2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Katherine Little on January 12, 2011 at 11:03 PM

    I am so amazed at the amount of calories that the campus dining food has! Thank you for pointing this out to me! I will be sure to be extra careful of what I eat on campus now due to the fact that a dinner can equal almost a whole day’s worth of food! Yikes!


  2. Hi! As a Cal Poly SLO graduate (from eons ago), and a registered dietitian who works for a university campus, I’ve found your blog really interesting! You seem to indicate that students want healthier options and more variety, but specifics would help. If a student at my campus got in contact with me with specific ideas-believe me, we would act on them! But healthy and variety mean something different to everyone…also, my experience is that people want healthy food available, but continue to choose fried foods, desserts, and skip the fruits and veggies.

    So-I’d love to hear your specific food ideas for healthier, more varied dining on campus!


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