There is a significant lack of healthy food options in Moraga and the surrounding area, which is resulting in Saint Mary’s students not living the healthy lifestyle they wish.
By Francesca Caronna
American Journalism Student
According to the World Health Organization, living in a close proximity to healthy restaurants has a direct correlation with a person’s health. As college students, eating healthy can be a challenge. For example, dining halls don’t always have the best options for a healthy lifestyle, and most students don’t have access to a kitchen for their first few years of college. The freshman-15 is a very real phenomenon that many people experience due to the plethora of unhealthy food that colleges tend to supply. However, for Saint Mary’s students, eating healthy can be even more of a challenge due to the lack of healthy food options in Moraga and surrounding area.
After talking with a few fellow Saint Mary’s College students about this topic, it became apparent that multiple students feel there is a need for healthier food options in the area around campus. Having access to healthy and organic food makes it easier for one to live a sustainable lifestyle, especially while in college. There is one grocery store in Moraga, Safeway, and they do not have an abundance of organic produce or organic ready-to-eat meals. As Saint Mary’s Student, Radha Rai, said “The nearest healthier grocery store is Whole Foods in Lafayette, which is not convenient for Saint Mary’s Students.” Everything is about convenience, and since the healthy options are further away, it makes students result in eating not as healthy as they wish.
Jacalyn Swiestra, senior at Saint Mary’s, explained that she doesn’t have a meal plan, but often results in buying snacks and lunch at Cafe Louis because she gets hungry between classes. “They do have salads which is a nice option, but their selection of healthy snacks is inconsistent.” She continued, “They used to have a selection of protein bars and even gluten free pretzels, but now all they have is chips and candy.” Clearly there is a need for more healthy snack options for students, as not everyone has meal plans.
Although the Saint Mary’s students are some of the people being affected by the lack of healthy food options, they are not the only ones. Local Moraga resident, Isabel Artiaga, grew up in Moraga her whole life and attended Campolindo High School. She stated, “Growing up, there were little to no healthy options, and the Whole Foods only opened when I was in middle school.” She added, “My parents started ordering our groceries online from Good Eggs because they have better options and it's more convenient.”
Healthy food options are crucial to one living a healthy and sustainable lifestyle. The less convenient things are, like the closest healthy food options being in Lafayette, results in individuals indulging in unhealthy foods because they see it as their only option. Being a college student comes with its struggles, a common one being the challenge of eating healthy while in school. For Saint Mary’s students, this is even harder because there are basically no healthy options in town. Another struggle that many college students experience is the immense cost of groceries, especially the ones marketed as healthy. Although the closest Whole Foods is in Lafayette, the location may not be the only reason students aren’t driving the distance. The produce and groceries in general are extremely more expensive than those at the local Safeway or Trader Joes, which can be a deterrent for students looking for healthier options.
Overall, Saint Mary’s students do not have ample options for healthy and organic food or snacks. Between the lack of options at Cafe Louis and the only grocery store in town being a Safeway, students have a hard time finding healthier options to fuel their bodies with. Being in college is already a challenge. Students balance classes, work, sports and extracurriculars, and now they have to spend extra time in their day to actively find healthier food options.
Madison Sciba '24,