Once college students move off campus, putting together meals can get much harder. The dining hall is no longer a five-minute walk from one's dorm. For maybe the first time in their lives, students need to buy their own food at the grocery store and make it themselves. Some even cancel their meal plans altogether after they move off campus. These students are the demographic that delivery services thrive on. The temptation of a quick meal with no needed preparation is enough to keep lots of people coming back to the app for more. Ordering a meal from an app may be convenient, but the extra charges should make it a weekend treat instead of an everyday dinner source for the financially struggling college student.
Getting food delivered straight to one's house has grown in popularity with the development of technology like the smartphone. Ordering food can now be done with a few clicks on the screen. The problem with ordering food on a phone, however, is all the additional fees that come with the orders. These fees can quickly turn a typical $10 sandwich into a $20 expense — just to get it delivered.
There’s a multitude of charges that come with ordering food through delivery services. This includes the main meal cost, which is usually more than what the restaurant charges in store. Doordash, for example, charges a fee for each order — usually from $1.99 to $5.99, according to Ridester — which they can change depending on the demand for deliveries at the time. This is because the restaurant is also being charged by these delivery services, so they need to increase their prices, which is more unnecessary money out of the customer’s pocket. There are also taxes, fees and tips for the driver that increase the total price.
For students who have tons of homework or multiple organization responsibilities, delivery services can go from a back-up plan to a main source of dinner in the blink of an eye. For example, in preparation for a big exam, students begin to sacrifice other hobbies in order to study longer. Kelly Johnson, a junior at JMU, says she uses delivery services only when she's cramming for exams.
“I don’t use delivery services very often, but I will occasionally use one after a long study session when I don’t have any energy left to make my own dinner," Johnson said.
Oftentimes, one of the first things given up is the time spent preparing meals. Once a student’s study schedule is formed around a timetable that doesn’t include meal preparation, a dependency on delivery services can begin.
Students need to be more prepared for this shift in their eating lifestyle before they’re sent to college. One of the biggest reasons students use these services can be because they don’t know how to cook themselves. Buying each ingredient and cooking it correctly is a multi-layered process that might intimidate students into settling with dining halls and delivery apps.
Luckily, there are services at JMU that teach students the importance of cooking, as well as how to cook for themselves. JMU’s University Recreation Center (UREC) hosts a variety of classes that teach healthy cooking techniques within a respectable budget. However, getting students to sign up for these classes is difficult because eating healthy may not be their top priority. JMU needs to do more to promote the need for a healthy diet. One solution could be a mandatory culinary class that could be a part of the Gen-Ed requirements. Another solution could be simply advertising the UREC classes more, whether it be on campus or through social media.
College education is centered around finding jobs and starting careers, but how can these get accomplished when students can’t even cook for themselves? More emphasis should be put on learning real-life skills like cooking in addition to career skills. JMU has done a fairly good job, but more can and should be done.
CONTACT Nick Lau at firstname.lastname@example.org. Nick is a sophomore media arts and design major.