Students at Long Beach State want healthy food but when the shops and restaurants bring in variety and options, they don’t get always get purchased.
One of the requests that the staff of the 49er Shops gets often is that they should offer more healthy food options in their stores, but the demand may outweigh the number of students that are buying the healthy choices.
Clint Campbell is the facilities manager for the 49er Shops which includes The Outpost, The Nugget, The Caffeine Lab, the vending machines and all the convenience-type shops on campus.
He says that the students aren’t often buying the healthy food offered because there’s not enough variety in where the healthy options are sold or the cost.
Campbell said that food storage space isn’t the same in every 49er Shop facility on campus.
“The Outpost has a much larger cold vault space, it can do more. The Caffeine Lab really has a lot of pressure up there because that was previously a Starbucks location, so the food component of that space was not a primary driver of what’s in there,” Campbell said.
Campbell also pointed out that depending on future budget allocations, the Caffeine Lab would eventually receive a refrigeration space upgrade to allow for more options.
Another issue with variety is that in order to prevent waste, the stores and restaurants only order what they think the students will buy. If the students don’t buy it, the stores and restaurants need to decide what to do with it.
If the healthy items aren’t chosen in the restaurants, the ingredients can be used later. Convenience stores don’t have that option because the healthy food they offer is pre-wrapped. If students don’t buy those, they have to be thrown out.
“Trying to allocate the resources, ingredients and items that we bring into the stores, proportionate to the sales, sometimes doesn’t mesh with the desire of the students who are in a smaller population,” Campbell said.
Students on campus also say the cost is part of the reason why they don’t purchase healthy options.
“I guess the pricing is I guess what I’d expect for a college campus like it is on the higher side,” said Muneeb Ahmed, a third-year communications major. “I guess I already kind of came in with the expectation that they would be priced a little more expensive.”
Other students have to make other choices for healthy food because of the price.
“A lot of the good ones cost more,” Kameron Perry, a second-year communications major, said. “Making food at home is probably the best way I have, especially healthier foods, to get them at an affordable price.”
The 49er Shops gets feedback from students about the food choice offerings through social media and comments to team members in the stores. It’s sometimes difficult to determine the number of students requesting healthy options.
“You have people who are asking for things and we want to be responsive to that,” Campbell said. “Whether it’s the same person asking ten times, or ten different people asking the same question is a completely different scenario.”
Campbell believes that the number of students that are requesting healthy options is growing despite that. He also said it’s still a challenge to provide students with the variety they want without ordering the food in such an excess that a lot of it gets wasted.