The meal plans offered to students living on campus at Tyler Junior College may not guarantee the right amount of fuel to survive the whole semester.

“Most students do not know how many calories they need to take in each day so, they need to be informed and knowledgeable to begin with,” said Rebecca Bibby, professor of Nutrition and Diet Therapy.

Under-eating can be an issue for many students living on campus, given the fact that most are on meal plans where they might not even be able to eat at least three meals every day.

“If you’re eating five to seven little, well-balanced meals, not including snacks but, with well-balanced meals, your body is going to be a lot more efficient both physically and mentally,” said Bibby.

On the meal plans provided alone it can be quite a challenge to eat enough throughout the day for many students.

“I got the gold meal plan — works for me because I only eat two meals a day,” said Tyaramis Williams, a student who lives on campus.

The Residential Gold Plan gives students 15 meals per week in the on-campus cafeteria, Apache Junction, and $125 in Apache Bux per semester to use at all on-campus dining locations. But given the fact that a meal usually costs around $5 or more, that means the Apache Bux can really, at most, serve as a third meal for 25 days out of the semester. This means the Gold Plan will give students three meals a day for only 39 days out of 116 days in a 16-week semester.

Even the Residential Platinum Plan, which provides the most meals, only gives students 19 meals per week in the Apache Junction and $50 in Apache Bux per semester. Students with the most expensive meal plan can still expect to be eating only two meals a day possibly up to 32 days out of 116 days in a 16week semester. This meal plans allows the student to eat every time a meal is offered.

The student would also have to buy third meal every weekend, because the Apache Junction is only provides meals twice a day on the weekends. Apache Bux can be used to fill in some of the missing meals, but Subway, Starbucks and Chick-Fil-A are all closed on the weekend and the C-Store is only open Sunday through Thursday from 6 to 11 p.m.

Unhealthy meal options are also readily available to students via fast food restaurants located on campus and at the Apache Junction.

“Pretty much I make a sandwich and a burger every day,” said Williams.

It may be the fact that many students are uneducated when it comes to nutrition that contributes to poor diet choices.

“I think it [a nutrition course] should be required [for] all grade levels, starting with kindergarten,” said Bibby.

This isn’t to say that the options offered at the Apache Junction are unhealthy.

“We have vegetarian options on each area,” said Jerry Starling, supervisor of the Apache Junction. “We have a vegetarian entrée every single day — plenty of fruit and vegetables every single day.”

It’s also notable that many of the students eating at the Apache Junction are making healthy diet decisions.

“I think they’re making a lot of great choices,” said Starling. “They use the deli and salad bar a lot and every single day, on our vegetarian option and on the stir-fry option, we actually either run out or get close to running out every day.”

For further information on meal plans, Apache Junction menus and healthy diet management, visit: http://tjc.campusdish.com.

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