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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

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    Stony Brook Dining Behind the Times

    While some U.S. universities are ahead of the trend when it comes to providing students with animal-friendly meal options, others schools, like Stony Brook University, are still a step behind.

    SBU provides meal options for both vegetarian students with a meatless diet and for vegan students with a diet free of all animal products. But even with vegetarian and vegan counters at campus dining halls, SBU has some catching up to do when compared with other universities in America.

    The dining services department at Clark University, in Worcester, MA, prides itself on its humane purchasing decisions. ‘We only acquire cage-free eggs and milk free of artificial hormones like rBGH,’ said Bryan Totel, the director of operations for Clark’s dining services. Totel added that Clark only sells chicken free of non-therapeutic human antibiotics, which promote rapid poultry growth and can lead to human bacterial infections.

    Other universities have recently made similar changes in its meal plans. According to the website of an outreach program called Compassionate Action for Animals, schools including George Washington University, American University, University of Connecticut, Marist College and Vassar College have stopped using eggs produced by battery-caged hens.

    Battery-caged hens are confined to a small cage, usually 16 inches wide, with several other hens. The animals are not able to spread their wings or stretch their legs for a year’s time; after a year they are usually sent to slaughter.

    Not only does Clark University have a vegan section in its dining hall, but it also uses color labels to denote foods that are vegetarian, vegan, or organic.

    Clark University’s food is provided by the Bon Appetit Management Company, a California-based company that operates in hundreds of U.S. universities and purchases only cage-free eggs and antibiotic-free poultry. According to its website, Bon Appetit strives to meet the needs of an ever-changing student population.

    Chartwells, a division of the Compass Group company, serves SBU’s dining halls. In a telephone interview, Lisa Ospitale, the campus dining marketing and communications director at SBU, was unable to provide information regarding the specific components of the meat and dairy served in campus dining facilities. But she explained that Chartwells does not offer such products as cage-free eggs or free-range meats.

    ‘We have been working with vendors to carry those items, but they are currently not available for purchase,’ Ospitale said.

    Similar problems exist at other public institutions in New York. The State University of New York at Buffalo does not provide students with what advocates would call compassionately produced meats or dairy, either. ‘The demand isn’t as high here for special products as it is at other schools,’ said Steve Daniels, the executive chef at SUNY Buffalo.

    ‘I can see us heading in that direction in the near future, though,’ Daniels added.

    Although neither Ospitale nor Daniels doubt that such products would be attractive to student diners, cost is a factor. Daniels explained that there is a large price gap between factory-farm meat and free-range meat, which students would have to be willing to pay.

    When these factors impeding the process, SB still remains behind other universities in providing animal-friendly products.

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