I would not call myself a foodie by any means, but it does not take a genius to know that the dining hall food here is less than prime. Add a few dietary restrictions on top of that, and it was virtually impossible for me to eat in a swipe-in dining hall. In my first year at Ithaca College, I did not have a job or kitchen, so I had to lean solely on the Campus Center and Terrace dining halls. But not even Terrace because it was too far for me to get to daily unless I wanted to go into a cardiac event. Listen to my podcast with Frankie Walls to learn more about my health issues. During my first year, I got diagnosed with an autoimmune disease with a pretty strict diet. My room in Landon Hall did not cut it, so in tandem with roommate disagreements, in my first spring semester on campus, I moved into a Garden Apartment and had a small, but personal kitchen. I am lucky that I love to and can cook because I have been on my own ever since then.
For anyone planning to be a functioning and self-sufficient adult in life, I highly recommend you learn to cook, even if it is just one or two delicious meals. I am not an Iron Chef, but I can follow a recipe and have my backup comfort recipes, a definite go-to. Though I love cooking for myself, it is often tricky because groceries are expensive and my time is already spread thin. I also do not have a car on campus, so it is either up to Instacart or bum a ride with a friend to buy said groceries. On weekends, I try my best to meal prep and pre-plan food for the week, but there are days that I just won’t eat or at the bare minimum, eat a granola bar or a random bag of chips from a vending machine. I have not had a meal plan from the end of my sophomore year to my current semester as a senior. I had a commuter plan for one semester, but never went to the dining hall because the food was never good and I couldn’t eat any of it anyway. There were times when I would swipe in to sit with friends while they ate, or in dire situations, I would use a friend’s guest swipe to grab food, but I’m mainly on my own. Because of my lack of meal plan and occasional inability to cook for myself due to lack of time, I reload my Bomber Bucks every couple of weeks. I really don’t want to know how much money I have spent to get an overpriced salad or panini from the food court and Park cart. When all else fails, DoorDash, GrubHub and IthacaToGo are just a click away. Now when I order food via delivery, I usually order extra food for the week that I can just heat up later. I tell myself it’s brilliant when, in reality, it is just me ordering extra food to meet the delivery fee minimum.
All in all, I did not come to Ithaca for the food. After most of my semesters spent on campus I can firmly say that the “freshman 15” was not something I experienced unless we are talking about the context of weight loss, then sure I lost the “freshman 25” my first few semesters here. I know that this is not healthy and I am not encouraging skipping meals. So I will end this by saying good luck to those with dietary restrictions on campus. It will be difficult, but try your best not to skip meals like me. Please eat — it is important.