With the closure of The Nugget and the University Dining Plaza, there’s no question that food options at Long Beach State are few and limited.
Though the university is taking steps to address the insecurities and nutritional value over the burgers and pizza currently offered on campus.
The northern part of campus near the Liberal Arts buildings is seeing an influx of healthy food vending machines being set up on a trial basis, addressing student concerns. These fridges are part of the Shared Services Initiative, a partnership with Associated Students Inc. and the 49er Shops.
Farmers Fridge offers fresh, ready-to-eat meals that require minimal prep ranging from salad, wraps and bowls. One of these fridges was set up on the upper campus near the LA-3 buildings.
“These fridges give us greater capacity to spread out on campus and to try and address some of the spots that might be underserved in terms of the food capacity,” CSULB Communications Coordinator, Shannon Couey said.
The new fridge offers pick-up and delivery options and with the addition of the mobile app, students can get a real-time view of the current selections. The handcrafted meals are part of a trial phase and depending on feedback from the campus, will be an expansion of the number of fridges and locations.
“We have to make sure that students like the options that they’re being presented,” Couey said. ” And also feasible under our food resources, so this is an ongoing investigation into what we can provide for students on campus”
Students and young people are choosing better nutritious food that provides sustainability over the usual comfort food like Carl’s Jr. and El Pollo Loco which are in the University Student Union.
The difficulty is that these food options are not mobile and accessible for students that are in the northern part of campus. Students have access to mainly vending machines and market-style quick food.
“We recognize that food has been a challenge on campus, especially serving as many students as we do and we’re in the process of trying to recalibrate from the pandemic,” Couey said.
Though, with the closure of The Nugget and the University Dining Plaza, the number of options for a campus that’s welcomed back more and more students since 2021 is starting to see an impact given the limited healthy food vendors.
“I think healthy options are more important because I prioritize healthy options over convenience,” fourth-year student, Alec Mann said. “I want something that may take longer, but is healthier.”
Mann stated that he was an avid user of Everytable, a subscription-based food delivery service that provides a variety of healthy and fresh prepped meals. Students are able to purchase meals provided by Everytable in the USU near the south plaza but it’s often overlooked due to the small size of the fridge.
Second-year student, Hannah Drantch, says that she normally goes off campus to buy food because she would rather “spend money on a more balanced meal than spend $10 on a Subway sandwich from the USU.” She adds that the food trucks do help, but are an expensive option.
The Beach Kitchen, located where the dining plaza used to be and next to the book store, also gives students an opportunity to utilize the food that is offered in the Beach Pantry and make healthy dishes at home.
The university installed the kitchen in the space to save money and take advantage of the already closed dining hall.
Campus Development Associate, Christina Limon, oversees the Beach Pantry and Beach Kitchen and stated that on average, the pantry sees 800 students weekly. She also adds that the program in the Beach Kitchen is 90% plant-based.
The pantry relies on both donations through the community and monetary donations to supplement its small budget. They carry items such as canned fruit, vegetables and proteins as well as grab-and-go items like cup of noodles and macaroni and cheese.
The events held by the kitchen are aimed to create a healthy mindset for students, teaching them how to meal prep and emphasizing nutritious options over fast food.
For students like third-year Anthony Mai, convenience comes at a cost and he would rather go home and cook something also stating that the options on campus are not good for you.
Mai also added that the food trucks can be a good opportunity to offset the food deficiency, but that their times don’t align with his schedule while on campus.
According to Couey, the main issue preventing more food options is the lack of space on campus. Many of the facilities on campus were built in the 1970s and the university is not able to keep up with the needs of 2022.
“Right now, we’re working towards trying to get our facilities modernized so that we can accommodate students and what they need now,” Couey said.
CSULB alumna Tanya Shoene graduated in 2014 and said that when she was in school, she would also choose to bring food from home due to the minimal nutritional options back then.
“The times are not catching up,” Shoene said. “They need to open more vendors that are not so standard like a mini Mother’s Market store.”
Campus officials are going to continue monitoring nutritional access as the Farmers Fridge machines gain momentum on campus. For now, students will need to either settle for comfort food in USU or small, snack-size items from the markets around the campus.