Monday, January 2, 2012

RA Training: There Goes My Resolution (And Diet)

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.


  1. Amen brother/sister! I struggle with this too and our catering department always suggests not the best options. What would your dream menu look like?

  2. We don't have those problems. One of the good things that can be said.

  3. In my former dept there was 'fried chicken day' every week of training, every semester. In my last semester there (multiple years) they finally offered me to share in the vegetarian fare. They had under-ordered that day so all the vegetarians were already sharing ONE pbj sandwich. Then they added me. We were all supposed to share ONE pbj sandwich while everyone else gorged on fried chicken?

  4. Amen! Preach it! Today is the first day of training and we will be serving greasy pizza to our RA staff because that is all we can afford too. However, I refuse to eat it! I live in a state that has one of the highest obesity rates in the nation. A lot of our RAs are overweight, as well. Some of them have even expressed their personal concerns about it to me because I admit it...I am overweight too, but have been starting to shed some pounds. We all want to lose weight! Unfortunately, many of them don't have the financial means to eat anything other than what we are serving. If I could afford it, I would personally serve a healthier alternative. I hate that we are already sabotaging their plans for a healthier new year.

  5. One thing that must be brought up is that many people are diabetic or pre-diabetic and this is happening with younger and younger people. Does anyone take this into consideration?

  6. I just ask for more veggies and more fruit instead of the normal pizza, soda, and ice cream. I have gained 10 pounds in the past few months (since i've started my first GHD position) and I am in fear of what will happen after more and more training's. There has to be a better way!