Nutrition information protects our most vulnerable

Graphic by Carrie Clowers '18

Graphic by Carrie Clowers '18


The other day, I decided to test out the College’s Dining Services website, which lists the nutritional information for each meal served on campus. I’d picked up Indian dal for lunch, and wanted to know what was in it. During my search, I discovered that the nutritional information available online is difficult to find and often false.

The dal was listed as containing 585 calories, which seemed high considering that one cup of traditional dal is only around 200. The Mount Holyoke sandwich, containing eggs, cheese and bacon, was listed as containing 113 calories. The ham melt displayed only 72 calories. The mushroom and beef cheeseburger was said to contain a mere nine calories. The allergen information was also lacking. While foods are generally correctly marked as “vegan” or “gluten-free,” there is little information on other allergies, such as peanuts.

By not thoroughly listing all ingredients online, Dining Services overlooks students with serious allergies. Combined with frequent cross-contamination observed at the dining halls, this lack of information can easily cause students to be too afraid to eat on campus, creating yet another unnecessary strain on their physical and psychological health. All foods available to students need to be completely and correctly labeled, and allergen information should be easily accessible.

For students without allergies or dietary restrictions, this isn’t a huge deal. However, it’s important to consider the serious implications that this has for the health and wellbeing of our community.

M&Cs can also be dangerous for students with allergies, as it’s common for utensils to be shared between different desserts. On top of this, the options don’t always have complete nutrition facts available, and all ingredients are not always listed. 

While obsessing over nutrition isn’t always healthy, many students with chronic illnesses such as gastroparesis or diabetes don’t have a choice. Being aware of content levels, such as sugar, is critical for some students’ health. 

The College needs to make sure that they are providing students with accurate nutritional information. The uncertainty of whether or not certain foods are safe to eat can be terrifying, and subjecting students to that is unfair. The incorrect information listed online is not only irritating, it can impose serious complications on students’ lives.