UVM Dining causes disordered eating, some students say


Andrew Burget

Dinner options at Simpson Dining Hall on Nov. 17. The dishes are “Louisiana Chicken & Shrimp Gumbo Bowl” and “Pulled Bbq Pork In Vinegar Sauce.”

UVM Dining food lacks quality, causing students to skip meals and develop disordered eating habits, several students said.

UVM’s food quality results in some students developing eating disorders and losing weight, leading to hungry students without the sustenance to learn, sophomore Faith Skerritt said. UVM Dining offers food options to accommodate a variety of dietary restrictions, including vegetarian, vegan, gluten free and eight allergens, according to their website.

This year’s dining hall food is limited and composed of often unappetizing options, sophomore Mckayla Muschette said. Her eating patterns caused significant weight changes, leading her to drop two pant sizes, she said.

“The only thing I would eat is maybe breakfast, or if I don’t eat breakfast, we’ll go out for dinner,” Muschette said. “I will never have a day where it’s breakfast, lunch, dinner, where I’m getting three meals a day.”

Students can use meal plan swipes at four dining halls among the locations, although one of the four dining halls scaled down to operate solely as a “grab-and-go” meal option, according to a Sept. 17 Cynic article.

UVM Dining conducts customer satisfaction surveys each semester to evaluate common concerns, stated Nicole Reilly, registered dietician and sustainability and campus partnership manager, in a Nov. 19 email. They also have a Dining Advisory Group, made up of students, UVM Dining leadership, faculty and staff, who meet monthly to address feedback and adjust options.

“It really is giving me disordered eating by being [at UVM], since I don’t particularly love eating the food here,” sophomore Kayla Johnson said.

Disordered eating can include symptoms of an eating disorder but at a lesser frequency and lower level of severity, according to the National Eating Disorders Collaboration.

While some students struggle with severe outcomes as a result of UVM Dining, others enjoy what the dining halls have to offer.

“I enjoy most of it, actually,” sophomore John Bond-Bardes said. “Maybe my standards aren’t the highest, but directly before coming here I had to cook for myself for about a year. And so having food made for me is quite nice.”

Bond-Bardes said he’s never had an eating disorder and does not have any dietary restrictions.

“We know that students come to campus with a variety of experiences, values and needs around food,” Reilly stated in her email. “Meeting the individual needs and flavor preferences for everyone is not an easy task.”

The food quality also varies across campus locations. Central Campus Residence Hall Dining is better than Mason-Simpson-Hamilton Dining for example, Johnson said.

“There really aren’t a lot of options, especially if you’re vegan or have dietary restrictions,” Johnson said.

Johnson said two of her roommates are vegan and have a hard time finding many options in the dining halls. They said their roommates struggled with disordered eating because of this.

UVM Dining plans to launch 100 new plant based recipes and other new Simple Servings recipes next semester, to better accommodate students seeking vegan and vegetarian options, according to Reilly’s email.

“As a Dietician I am here to support students,” Reilly stated in her email. “I would encourage any students struggling to find adequate options on campus to reach out to me directly at [email protected].”