Morganlee's Blog

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Nov 18

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As a college student at Georgia State University, I witness many of my fellow students constantly consume unhealthy food for the sake of saving money and getting a convenient meal. The space that I chose to observe is the dining area outside the Panda Express in the Student Center, which is a place that displays the destructive dependence that college students have on easily accessible fast food. The reason why I chose to observe this area is because I am very familiar with this place. I come here (to the Student Center) almost every Monday and Wednesday after mt critical thinking course to wait until my English class. It’s more convenient than going back to my dorm, and it is a good place to finish some last-minute work and grab a bite to eat. Since I live in the University Commons, I often cook for myself without a meal plan to rely on. Because of this when my schedule is busy, and when I have back to back classes, this dining hall in the Student Center is the place I come to get a quick and easy meal. This causes the issues of eating unhealthy fast food to also be a personal problem that affects my life. As a political science major this issue is also very important to me because the main goal of political scientist is to continually improve and protect the quality of life within a group; in this case it is to improve the quality of college students live by pointing out the unhealthy food choices the make. 

When walking into the student center, the faint smell of inauthentic Chinese food being to pervade the air. The scent gets stronger and stronger as you walk closer to the dining area. When you walk down the stairs and get to the main dining section of the area, you are presented with a large open area filled with tables for the students to sit and eat. On a huge wall to the side of the dining area there are two large projections that display events going on campus and the other displays a daytime TV show.

The Dinning Area in the Student Center

This is the Dinning Area in the Student Center during one of its not busy and packed times

None of the students, however, are paying attention to this projection. Their eyes are glued to their computer screen rapidly typing up whatever assignment they have due soon or glued to their phones scrolling through different social media apps and texting their friends or catching up with friends. Most of them are waiting in large lines to get some lunch. There are two main places that you can get food inside the court; the first is the Courtyard which looks like a mini convenience store with all kinds of drinks and snacks. Two cash registers sit at the front of the sectioned of store for customers to pay for their items. The walls are lined with sodas, sugary juices, chips, and candy. A few students walk in then walk out with some kind of soft drink or junk food in hand. The Courtyard does offer some healthy food options.

Fruits in plastic containers on a shelf

This is a photo 123rf.com used to represent the fruit in the Courtyard

There is a refrigerated shelf filled with fruits and yogurt and salads prepackaged in plastic containers, but those shelves remain full as students go in only picking up and purchasing the junk food. There is also a Panda Express. The Panda Express is by far the busiest. The line of students waiting to get there order is so long that it wraps around and curves like a snake the extends passed some table and stops at the staircase.  The people in line are fidgeting and tapping their feet as the repeatedly look at the clocks on their watches or their phones. The people closer to the register glare up at the menu signs with their eyes moving back and forth from each item of the menu. Each person goes up to the person taking orders and orders their individual serving of sugar-filled calorie-filled MSG-filled Panda Express. Once a person pays for their order, they go to find seating in the overcrowded seating area. Seating is very scarce because there are so many people which causes random people to sit with people they don’t know. Everybody comes here at the same time for the same purpose at the same time. 

When you take a glance of the sitting area, all you can see is a sea of fast food logos littering the tables. Not only are people eating their processed Panda Express, but they also bring in unhealthy fast food from other places. Bags of Chick-Fil-a and Steak and Shake are sprinkled around the court; grease can be seen soaking the bottom of the bag making. Everyone can be seen slurping up large ups of carbonated drinks and going to get refills from the fountain machine. There are people chomping down on fried chicken sandwiches and greasy burgers and melts and drinking milkshakes and eating ice cream stating that it’s there moment to “treat themselves”.  In another area of the court, there are four microwaves that are there for the people that want to bring their own food to eat. But every now and then a few people go up to the microwave and heat up some food that they’ve brought in the own personal container. actually, bring their own food to eat, and of those few, even fewer are eating healthy homemade food. Most are bringing things like leftover oil-soaked pasta and pizza. 

As one student sits down in the court she lets go of a heavy sigh and smiles at her meal in front of her. On the table lies large Styrofoam container filled with chicken glazed in sweet orange sauce, beef with teriyaki sauce drizzled on top, greasy Lo Mein, and fried rice. Next to the container was a 24 oz Monster energy drink complemented with a large cup of frozen yogurt.

Panda Express Meal

This is a picture from total-takeout.com used to represent the meal the student is eating in the Analysis

The friend this student is eating with gives her a questioning look. “What”, the student says, “I haven’t eaten all day, my schedule doesn’t allow me to eat before class.”  Her stomach then growls in response. “Was the frozen yogurt needed though?” her friend questions. “I’m just trying to treat myself,” she replies then digs into her food. 

In conclusion, this food court represents how many big fast corporations are all around college campuses, and how their relationship to the collective of college students can be seen in this dining hall. Through this relationship we can see the dependence that many college students have on these fast food restaurants; we see these students rely on the convenience and cheapness of the food despite the negative effects it can have on your health. These corporations come to these college campuses knowing that students are dependent on their cheap food and that it will lead many college students into an unhealthy lifestyle. Healthy Food always tend to be way more expensive than cheap junk food, and college students often times have many expenses that they prioritize over their food budget, so with all the fast food places where ever you go on campus it is easy to fall into the trap of an unhealthy diet. Even though this is the circumstance for many students, it is important food student to prioritize their health and attempt to eat as healthily as possible using their budget, and not fall into the trap of the fast food corporations. 

  

Sep 08

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