Vegetarian Lifestyle Is Tough To Maintain At B-CU

Jerykah Thomas. Ashlyn Denson photo
Jerykah Thomas. Ashlyn Denson photo

Jerykah Thomas, 19, is a minority here at Bethune-Cookman University. Thomas, a business administration major, is a vegetarian. She says she often finds it a challenge to eat in the campus dining hall.

The options are a disappointment, she said. "There's not any," Thomas said. She also said that while the salad bar sometimes has something to offer, it is not enough for her vegetarian appetite.

She tries to eat the pizza but then again, that gets old as well, she said. All in all, Thomas says that she just avoids the café altogether. Thomas said that the café should provide more vegetarian options. She said that it would be good if the university's café had rice without meat, and potatoes frequently.

"At home, I'm able to cook," Thomas said. She says that café doesn't really cater to the vegetarian and vegan population. She said that she thinks because the school is an HBCU they do not really think of that population that doesn't eat meat.

Jerykah prepares rice in her room. Ashlyn Denson photo
Jerykah prepares rice in her room. Ashlyn Denson photo

An official with Sodexo, the campus food service provider, said officials are aware of the
diversity of students here. William Smith, the general manager, said Sodexo tries to offer numerous vegetarian dishes.

"We've got the pasta bar, salad bar, and we offer veggie burgers at the grill," Smith said, adding the salad bar has a bean which means it provides a "lean protein."

Smith said that the café's International bar varies and can be anything, including a vegetarian dish. He said that the café once served a vegetarian meal that consisted of vegetarian fajitas. There was a lot of negative feedback.

"Every semester Sodexo does customer service satisfaction surveys," Smith said. These surveys are done in either the university's cafeteria or in the Wildcat Den. "Fall of 2016 and fall of 2017, our overall satisfaction score increased by 20 percent," Smith said. Before last semester there were only 130 participants, however, that number has grown to 260, Smith said.

Pasta in Jerykah's room helps her get carbohydrates to stay energized. Ashlyn Denson photo.
Pasta in Jerykah's room helps her get carbohydrates to stay energized. Ashlyn Denson photo.

These surveys asked students about where they like to eat if they eat off-campus, and many more questions. Smith, 37, said that café recently hired an executive chef. Previously, he said, some of the food served came from the can but now with a chef, the food is better quality. He also noted that there is a board in the dining hall where students can leave comments and suggestions about the food choices provided by the café.

"Yes, we get that feedback," Smith said, adding that since he arrived here Sodexo has done

two menu refreshments. Meanwhile, he said Sodexo is looking at expanding food options in the future to include a Starbucks and the Burrito Bowl. The company is trying to accommodate the student's wants while providing healthy particulars in the entrée, he said.

By Ashlyn Denson