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Opinion: While remaining environmentally friendly, Rollins should make the dining system healthier, more affordable

The financial aspect of dining on campus appears to encourage students to make unhealthy eating choices because of the expensive cost of healthy options.

As someone who prioritizes finances when making food selections, money dictates my choices. The difficulty occurs when I need to order dinner and the only option is Dave’s Boathouse, where main meals cost the same as desserts and the soda is a full dollar cheaper than water. 

Why not simply ask for a cup of water, you may ask? Due to COVID-19, the water fountain is shut down at Dave’s, thus the only water available costs over $2. The healthy side of me tells me to order a $9 salad and a $2 bottle of water. However, the financially responsible side of me tells me to order a $1 soda and the $9 chicken tenders that come with a free side. 

How is it possible that a natural resource that takes up 71 percent of the Earth costs more than a can of coke, a human-manufactured, cancer-causing soft drink? Coca-Cola has no benefits other than its addictive taste and low price. It has been proven to lead to breast and colon cancer, heart diseases, and cavities. A decrease in the price of water could quite literally save lives by helping students make healthier choices.

Rollins chose a fascinating water company to exclusively back: Ever and Ever water. After some digging into the story behind Ever and Ever water, I learned that the company was inspired to create easily recyclable water bottles, which is why the water is so costly.

This past year, I set a goal for myself to be more green, so it pleases me to see that the school took the same initiative. However, one extra dollar per meal starts to add up and siphons my dining dollars away from my account one by one. 

Rollins could fix this issue simply by changing the water company from Ever and Ever to another environmentally friendly, cheaper product. Just Water, for example, costs ten dollars less for the same amount of water and is also made of sustainable materials. 

However, if it is impossible to achieve this, Rollins could offer free cups of water to students, similar to what most restaurants do. If Dave’s is unable to make water more affordable and unable to offer free cups of water, a refillable water bottle station could be placed nearby with cups students can use. Rollins can also create more incentives for students to make healthier eating choices by offering coupons or price reductions for healthier items.

As for the insane price of the desserts, let me just say, the lava cake is definitely worth the cost. But $9 is still a very high price to pay for a chocolate cake and a scoop of ice cream. Sometimes, Dave’s will forget an ingredient or item in the meal and the students will still be charged as much as if they received their full order. Getting dessert from a place on Park Avenue, such as chocolate from Peterbrooke Chocolatier–which in itself is extremely expensive–would cost less than ordering from Dave’s. 

I could have a variety of different meals off-campus for less money than I am forced to spend at Rollins ordering off of Dave’s menu. Bottles of water ordered off of Amazon or at the local convenience store would give me more bang for my buck. However, since I live on campus, I’m required to have a meal plan that offers me a set amount of swipes, dining dollars, and Tar bucks. If I am unable to use up my dining dollars, they expire at the end of the semester, and the thousands of dollars I paid for my meal plan are wasted. 

I believe that, if we work hard enough, there is a way to make the dining system more affordable, healthy, environmentally friendly, and inclusive for people of all economic backgrounds.

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