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Students struggle to pay for food: students have a lot to digest

The convenience and variety of beverages on campus are powerful draws to students’ wallets. Despite being on a tight budget, students often splurge on that “necessary” cup of coffee or quick thirst quencher between classes. Various online articles, such as ones from Forbes and Huffington Post, list the top things students waste money on. Food frequently appears as a money-wasting item. If not lumped under food, alcohol also makes the list in the “entertainment” category.

When asked about food-spending habits, students say the convenience of food and beverages being on campus is most important for those frequent purchases. Peter Wilson, senior marketing major, acknowledged one of his most frequent spending habits is energy drinks or coffee. Wilson said knowing that energy drinks are not very nutritious and that the routine is expensive are not always strong enough spending deterrents. Lately, though, Wilson said he’s been trying to cut back on purchasing energy drinks and coffee by drinking Arizona peach teas, which are less expensive, and making coffee at home.

“It becomes habitual,” Wilson said.

Richard Torrez, senior horticulture major, agreed that one of the top common purchases is beverages. Torrez is already on the Arizona peach tea diet, purchasing one almost every day.

OnCampus Research, a division of the National Association for College Stores, shows in 2011, bottled water, milk and soda were the most commonly consumed beverages by college students in a seven-day time period. Surprisingly, only 14 percent of students said they’d consumed energy drinks in the past seven days; 39 percent reported consuming coffee.

After a tough day of classes, nothing sounds better than a home-cooked meal.

Students struggle to pay for food because they can’t always afford to buy groceries or lack the transportation or motivation to go and buy them, much of the time they aren’t very good at cooking.

Top Ramen, for this reason, is a staple for many college students.

“I thought I wanted to be like all the cool kids in college and eat Top Ramen all the time in high school,” said Hannah Barnett, senior at Boise State.

Now, she prefers anything but; her favorite cheap food is quesadillas, which can be made in many different ways.

Even with the proper amount of creativity, however, nothing can make up for a lack of funds.

“There’s always a point when nothing’s in your fridge and you get desperate for food,” Barnett said. “Then you get into the weird beans you bought forever ago. When you start eating those out of the can, it’s really bad.”

For Maddie Patse, a junior a Boise State, ramen noodles are still a staple, along with peanut butter and jelly because she doesn’t have a vehicle.

“I feel like when you have a car, it’s easier to get food,” Patse said. “I still don’t, so I just go to Albertsons to get Top Ramen and sandwich fixings.”

There’s a list of dirt cheap recipes that are easy to make at for just these instances. The website includes 12 recipes to improve Top Ramen and various other recipes made in just a single pot on its list of 100 Delicious, Dirt-Cheap Meals for the Starving Student.

Student Voices:

Do you bring your lunch, eat on campus or both?

Do you think there is a stigma against students who bring their lunch?

Tiasia Campbell, senior respiratory care major

“I usually eat on campus, usually Subway. It’s just easier, more convenient. Honestly I think [students who bring lunch are] just saving money. I wish I had time to bring a lunch. I just love my sleep too much.”

Julia Broderick, junior sociology major

“I bring my lunch. I bring snacks. I think there’s more of a stigma for students who bring gross-smelling food to class, like sushi, or loud food. It’s inconsiderate.”

Efrain Primero, senior sociology major

“Sometimes I do [bring lunch], sometimes I don’t. I also try to eat before I come here; it’s cheaper that way. I think when students bring their lunch other students think ‘hey, that’s smart’.”

Greg Pladesen, senior social science major

“I don’t usually bring my lunch, I try to eat before I come to campus. I don’t think there’d be anything bad, like I don’t think [students] would be like, ‘look at that poor kid’.”

Amanda Baschnagel, junior theatre major

“I do a little bit of both. Bringing a lunch saves money. Buying lunch on campus saves time. Personally I bring my lunch because it’s cheaper that way and I can’t afford to eat here everyday.”