My youngest son is heading off to college this fall, going from home cooking to campus dining halls that have changed dramatically from my college years — and not for the better.
Back in the 1970s, before America's obesity epidemic accelerated, as a college student living on campus and surviving on the school meal plan, I had to hustle to the dining hall for a specific time window: 7:30 to 9 a.m. for breakfast, 11:30 to 1:00 p.m. for lunch, and 5 to 7 for dinner. If I was late, well, too bad. And the choices were limited — an entrée or two, a few side dishes, and one or maybe two desserts. Burgers and French fries were served only on special occasions. Sugary beverages weren't served at all. The salad bar held only lettuce, tomato, cucumbers, and a few dressings. The few students watching their weight made do with a bowl of cottage cheese. Food wasn't allowed in the library or study cubicles and nobody brought food or drinks to classes. Water bottles were unheard of. I can't recall a single vending machine in my dorm or any campus building. I also can't remember feeling hungry or deprived.