Shajeel Rehman lines up in the basement of Dineen Hall during lunch time; it’s so crowded it’s like it’s rush hour at Saint Peter’s University. The dining facilities are filled with hungry students and faculty deciding what to eat.
Located in Pete’s Place, the “Farmer’s Fridge” is new at Saint Peter’s. A touch-screen vending machine, the fridge dispenses healthy alternatives instead of junk food. Say hello to salad and goodbye to chips.
Cynthia Farabaugh, director of dining services, said the fridge, which is part of a new initiative to limit highly processed food items on campus, is stocked every night to maintain its freshness. The fridge offers pasta bowls, fresh salads, yogurt parfaits, breakfast meals like apple cinnamon oats and nutritious snacks like chips and guacamole.
Students like Yuliza Calero, a senior at the university, prioritize their health and are finding a good balance by cooking their own meals on campus and getting quick options that are available in the Farmer’s Fridge.
“I’ve been keeping a balanced diet so the Farmer’s Fridge helps,” she said.
Farabaugh said encouraging healthy eating habits is a main goal of dining services. The facilities work with student commentary to make requested changes. But students say the salad vending machine isn’t working for them.
Rehman said he would try the Farmer’s Fridge if he could use his Munch Money, but payment can only be made with cash and credit cards. A single pasta bowl costs up to $6.50 and a salad is $9. Farabough said Munch Money will soon be accepted.
Sometimes all you have to do is make us aware that there’s a need for something and we will try our best,” she said.
The “Farmer’s Fridge” also has an app so students can order right from their phone. The vending machine will hold the selected item and have it available for pick up by entering a given code.
The Farmer’s Fridge is one of the few new healthy dining options, Farabaugh said. Meal plans are most often used in the Loughran Dining Room, where the other new options can be found.
“We’ve been including more vegetarian friendly meals in the ‘Simple Servings’ station as well as in the ‘Cura Sushi’ Station,” said Farabaugh. “There’s sushi with soy wraps instead of seaweed.”
On a related issue, the university is providing opportunities for students to contribute culturally inclusive meals as well. Nicolette Scott, a senior and resident at the university, is working on starting her own food club.
“It’s coming soon -- I’m introducing more Caribbean and cultural meals. My plan is to curb unhealthy eating and have nutritionists come in,” Scott said.