Happy New Year! It’s the time of the year when everyone resolves to eat better, visit the gym more often, and kick an unhealthy habit. However, a good percentage of us fall off the organic granola bandwagon and resort to our old ways. What frustrates me is that right around the time when people are struggling to stick to a healthy lifestyle, RA training begins, which means pizza, taco nights, and soda (lots of it!).
This will be my third year on the RA Training Committee, and like last year, my pleas for alternatives to the grease, chemicals, and high-fructose corn syrup have fallen onto deaf (and overweight) ears. I am not demanding that all RAs and professional staff adhere to a draconian diet; all I am asking is that we consider purchasing better food or at least increase the budget for our staffs to afford dinners other than pizza and Pepsi. Yet, like last year, I have been told due to financial strains on the department, we will be sticking with the usual vendors for training.
What baffles my mind is how a mostly overweight department can justify continuing to feed their staff food that is processed and fatty. Plus, they rarely support those who take their nutrition into their own hands. While not everyone is satisfied with the quality of meals, and some professional staff members choose to bring their own lunch, they are usually ostracized and ridiculed behind their backs. Why all the animosity? It is my thought that those who deride their peers are jealous that they are unable to embrace a healthy lifestyle themselves. Or, they unfairly feel they are being judged by the “thin people”. Whatever their reason, it sickens me when I hear the nasty taunts against those who packed a lunch of their liking, rather than succumb to crappy food.
In my state, the obesity rate is almost 25% of the adult population. Although, not the highest in the nation, it is still alarmingly high and should signal the need for Residential Life departments to place a greater emphasis on healthier eating, especially during training when most staff members have no choice but to eat the pizza, wings, and fried foods. If we require everyone to build community through meals then we have a responsibility to make sure there are more vegetables, less grease, and better options than what we are currently offering. If we want to save our budget and build a strong staff, something needs to change, because what we are doing now is failing—big time!
I’m not preaching that we all need to be a size 4. What I am suggesting is that there is no harm in spending a little more money on higher quality food during training. If that means professional staff members do not receive their usual college swag or that we cancel the Yankee Swap party in December then so be it. I would happily forgo another free travel mug with the department’s logo imprinted on it for training to be a healthier experience. However, knowing our department, nothing will change since my boss really likes his free sweatshirt and his boss really likes to save money.