What’s for dinner and is it healthy?

By Alex Maiorana
February 23, 2019

Sodexo has been Cabrini’s food supplier for as long as I have attended the school. As a junior, I have become curious as to whether or not the food we eat is healthy.

Over the course of the day the cafeteria offers three meals: breakfast, lunch and, of course, dinner. There are different eating options depending on the day and time you go to the cafeteria.

There are, however, a few items that are always available. Some of those items include breakfast cereals, a salad bar and an assortment of breads.

Nothing sounds too awfully unhealthy about any of those things and for the most part they are not. Before we can determine if anything else is healthy, we need to determine what is healthy food.

The Stats

On average an adult male needs to take in around 2,500-2,800 calories per day. An average woman needs 2,000-2,400 calories per day.

Where the calories come from and what they are made of is just as important if not more so. Sodium and protein can also be a sign of a food’s quality.

Sodium should be kept moderately low at around 1,500 milligrams per day.

Based on the average 20 year old woman around 125 grams of protein should be consumed per day. The average 20 year old man should have around 155 grams per day.

Using Sodexo’s app “bite” students are able to see the nutrition facts of foods that are being served on any given day. This can be helpful, but could also be misleading.

A normal apple is listed to be zero calories on the app. According to other sources an apple on average is 95 calories.

While this is not grounds for distrusting the entire system it shows that there is certain to be false information elsewhere on the app.

photo by Caitlyn Huebner

A day at the cafe

We will say it is Wednesday, Jan 30. Grilled kielbasa with peppers and onions is on the menu for breakfast, so are eggs and an unnamed item.

Clearly I cannot get every item and do all the math in one article. We’re going to assume I have the most amount of calories possible by only eating one thing at each meal.

I choose the kielbasa. Assuming I am eating nothing else for breakfast I’ve consumed a fine amount of calories at about 530 and 18 grams of protein. However, I’ve already also had 1630 milligrams of sodium.

Not off to a great start, but on average a person consumes much more than 1600 milligrams per day. Having 1500 is just a healthier suggestion.

I have a moderately active day up until lunch. Once again there is one item unnamed.

For lunch I eat a west african grilled chicken sandwich. I’ve eaten another 440 calories, 33 grams of protein and 720 milligrams of sodium.

Dinner comes around and I am eating two pieces of southern fried chicken. With that I am eating 640 calories, 61 grams of protein and 680 milligrams of sodium.

An ordinary meal served at the mindful bar at the cafeteria- Picture by Alex Maiorana

The day’s total comes to 1650 calories, 112 grams of protein and a whopping 3030 milligrams of sodium.

That doesn’t really seem bad, until you realize you haven’t had enough calories or protein. If you eat anymore you also keep racking up the already high amount of sodium.

If we give Sodexo or the cafeteria the benefit of the doubt we could say that there are options that could add up a little bit better than that. I will in this case seeing as there are a good amount of options.

The cafeteria is clearly not the most healthy place to eat, but if you try there is definitely a way to eat well here at school.

If we were to ask if the healthy food here tastes good, that would have to be a whole other topic. I am not a huge fan of the food, but I’ll probably be back tomorrow.

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Alex Maiorana

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