Cafeteria Food, It Is What It Is

By Katherine Hernandez

Attention Students: As you pass through the turnstiles of the third-floor student cafeteria (students have been told by the College Administration that they are no longer wanted in the faculty cafeteria) the musk of hot frying oil may capture your attention. nose. A few steps more, and may eye an array of French fries, burgers, and deep-fried chicken tenders sitting on a hot plate.

You walk further into the cafeteria and may be greeted with mini fridges stocked with pre-packaged processed sandwiches and salads, Hale & Hearty pre-made soups, and last but not least, once frozen pizza, that is baked and served for $3.25 a slice. Al provided by the cooperate food service company, AVI Food Systems  which advertises the slogan that this writer considers contradictory, “Get Fresh.”

The options seem limiting to this health conscious consumer, yet hundreds of students purchase food from the Hunter cafeteria on a daily basis. In 2015, USA Today reporter Bruce Horowitz, surveyed more than 30,000 consumers in more than 60 nations, revealing that younger consumers (AKA millennials) were far more concerned with food ingredients, from genetically modified food to organic foods, than previous generations.

Just how healthy conscious are Hunter students?

Asked what she thought about processed food sold at the cafeteria, Daphne Oden, a 20-year-old biology major, wearing a black coat, gray scarf, athletic leggings, Nike sneakers, and hair in a high bun, said, “Poverty.”

“I know a lot of the foods are processed,” she said, “but at the same time I can’t afford non-GMO organic bullshit. I go to Whole Foods and sample their free stuff, that’s when I eat healthy, other than that, I’m eating this stuff and ramen noodles.”


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After researching ingredients on food labels at the cafeteria, this writer discovered the chef salad contains potassium sorbate, a food preservative shown to be genotoxic to human peripheral blood lymphocytes (white blood cells).

This writer also read that modified food starch is in the chicken wrap. Modified food starch? According to a study, it is a starch that often contains about 10 percent maltodextrin and can be difficult for human bodies to digest.

“I think the food at [the Hunter Cafeteria] is really expensive but so is McDonalds. I ordered ten pieces of chicken nuggets and small fries and it was seven to eight dollars. I might as well eat here. [This neighborhood] is super expensive and I also don’t always have the time,” said Oden.

Queens resident Rohan Hutchinson, 19, wearing a gray beanie, black jacket, denim jeans, and a black T-shirt said, “So many things I already consume are processed, I mint as well add this to the list.”

“I will eat anything. I really don’t care. Outside is also cold so it is totally about convenience,” said Long Island resident Tia Henry, a 19-year-old, biology major wearing a gray dress, black knee-high boots, a gold watch, and braided hair. She was interviewed in the student cafeteria.

When 18-year-old, psychology major, Saval Aime, a Long Island resident wearing a white long sleeved blouse, black glasses, black pants, and a blue necklace, was asked why she ate cafeteria food, she said, “Because I am a college student. I am broke. This is Manhattan. Things are expensive, three dollars for French fries is more convenient for me.”

All four students interviewed talked about their sparse food budgets that can limit them eating healthier food. A contributor to, Michael McNair wrote that adopting a healthy lifestyle can be demanding for those who have to juggle their studies, social lives and part-time jobs.


Katherine Hernandez []