Survey Finds Majority of College Students “Gastronomically Unprepared” for COVID-19

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As an increasing number of students are forced to stay home, experts are reportedly concerned about an imminent spike in home fires.
Photo by Sharon Roth

With no end in sight to the COVID-19 pandemic, even the most skeptical students have started embracing society’s “new normal.” However, a recent study has shown that the majority of students are far from being adjusted to the plethora of changes to their daily lives. In the remotely-conducted survey, it was determined that 87 percent of American college students are “very” or “somewhat” concerned with cooking “real food” in quarantine.

“It’s already intimidating enough under normal circumstances,” said Carl Devins, football captain at SDSU. “Now we’re in what I would politely call ‘holy-cow-what-is-happening-anymore conditions.’” Many shoppers including Devin have noticed an increasing demand for inexpensive nonperishables, such as pasta, canned fish, instant noodles, and snacks. “In short, the stuff many adults normally consider beneath them are the things that college kids thrive off of,” said Devins.

Devins’ local Safeway, like many grocery stores nationwide, has been emptied of everything except “undesirable products.” Devins criticized how these situations make cooking even more intimidating: “I just want macaroni and cheese, yet when I go to the store the single-serving microwavable stuff is all gone. I walk past the piled-high displays of fresh fruits and vegetables to the blue box aisle, and all that’s left is gluten-free and vegan garbage. I’m doubtful that stuff is safe to eat even under normal circumstances. What am I supposed to do?” 

Devins is not alone in his concerns. Even though health officials from the CDC and WHO have reassured the public that purchasing groceries from a store, having them delivered, and ordering take-out all pose similar levels of risk, citizens nationwide fear that local governments will soon order a complete shut-down of delivery services to promote stricter social distancing.

“I don’t even own silverware, let alone pots and pans,” stressed Lawrence Zhang, a second-year at UCSD. “Even if I wanted to join the world in cooking everything at home, I can’t. Besides, ordering take-out is keeping someone employed right now. If that gets outlawed, a lot of us are going to be screwed. Everyone else is hoarding all of the microwave meals. Can one cook pasta by nuking it in a cup of water?” Currently no indicators suggest that take-out and delivery services will be shut down soon. However, Zhang remains concerned and reported he was starting to save plastic cutlery and “looking into trying to cook simple foods in take-out containers.”

Other students who cooked before the stay-at-home order have expressed complaints about grocery store shortages impacting their routines and habits. “This will make me seem like a jerk, but people need to stop hoarding flour,” said Jane Suite. “I’ll bet almost anything people are buying it and hiding it in a closet with their ridiculous mountains of toilet paper. If you’re going to keep buying bread, leave the flour for those of us who actually bake.”

However, other sources suggest that before long grocery stores will not be as strained, insisting that a rapid change in demand and purchasing habits led to empty shelves. “A lot of this was probably mob mentality,” said Suite. “Toilet paper, hair dye, flour, and ammunition make an unusual collection, to say the least. It’s just frustrating to see people acting like animals at a time when we really need to look out for each other. Personally, I was hoping to bake for some of my immuno-compromised neighbors.”

Suite continued to urge people to not buy flour “unless you know what to do with it. You know you can’t eat it raw, right? Well, maybe raw gluten-free flour is edible, but it’s not good for anything else so I won’t stop people from buying that.”

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