Crunching the numbers: Some opt for fast food

Fast food
Students eating fast food on campus. Photo by Daniela Derramadero / el Don

Around lunchtime on a recent Wednesday, a few groups of students sat at the tables outside Johnson Center with food from Carl’s Jr., Taco Bell, and In-N-Out Burger. Other students held coffee from either Starbucks or the SAC Cafe.

Students say that they buy fast food over food at the on-campus cafe for lunch because it is affordable even if it’s less nutritious. “The food I eat is mostly from off the campus since I’m on a budget,” says Luis Enrique Calderon, a sophomore liberal arts major.

On the following Monday morning, there was almost nobody near the tables when the cafe opened at 8a.m.. But after 10 minutes, some students started entering the cafe to buy coffee, and sometimes with a bagel or a muffin. Around two students would walk into the cafe every 15 minutes.

Officials say that any kind of coffee served from the Cafe are the most popular menu items. However, students seem to get a few items from the breakfast menu quite often as well. “Usually, early in the morning, we will sell mostly coffee & breakfast sandwiches.” said Tiffany Heremans, Culinary Arts Associate Professor who oversees operations at the SAC Cafe.

By the time the quick stop next door opened, some students went in to buy sandwiches, sometimes with juice. After a while, students came in with a Starbucks drink in their hand.

When it comes to the SAC Cafe, the food from the lunch menu is not very commonly seen on students’ tables compared to fast food.

“Not to say that the cafe is good or bad because I never tried any of the options. The prices for some of the stuff on the menu are kinda pricey which pushes me away for more cheap alternatives,” said Calderon.

Pedro Garcia, a sophomore English major says, “I have not tried anything at the SAC Cafe because they do not look appetizing to me. Too sweet or sugary for my liking. Maybe more nutritious snacks that give you protein and vitamins.”

Heremans and her team are working on changes to their menus to appeal more to the students. “The SAC Cafe is aware of what the students and staff eat. When we are creating new menu items, we keep that in mind,” said Heremans.

The Cafe also plans on making some changes in the future. “As the Café becomes self-sustaining, we hope to expand menu options and business hours,” says Heremans. “Eventually, we would love to have pop-up events that would highlight individual Culinary Arts Student Menus.”

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