“Our quest for almond milk needs your help!” begins USG’s most recent survey.
The organization is conducting a survey regarding milk choices at both on-campus Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf locations, as well as the on-campus Starbucks, formerly known as Trojan Grounds. The survey began Sept. 10 and will run until Sept. 24.
Support for the idea of offering almond milk at on-campus coffee shops began within the USG office. Members of USG showed interest in having the extra choice, which initiated a focus group. As a result of the growing initiative, Assistant Director of University Affairs Danielle Norton, a sophomore majoring in business administration with an emphasis in cinematic arts, created the survey to provide USG with more opinions from the greater student body.
“The survey was really to gage opinion and find out what students are really interested in,” USG Senior Director of Communications Olivia Diamond said. “If it turns out that students aren’t interested, then we’re on to the next issue.”
A few hundred students participated in the survey during its first week. Questions on the survey range from students’ milk preferences to if they would be willing to pay an extra fee for almond milk.
Some students fully supported the almond milk initiative.
“I think that’s a great idea,” said Nicole Mata, a junior majoring in health promotion and disease prevention. “Coffee Bean and Starbucks already have the options to substitute milk for soy milk, so they should carry almond milk, too.”
Others did not seem so excited.
“There are five billion choices for how to make your coffee, and they’re just adding to the list,” said Lindsay Gibson, an undecided sophomore. “They already have soy, and that’s what kids drink if they’ve got a problem with milk.”
Health concerns, however, go beyond those who are lactose intolerant. Almond milk, which is made from ground almonds and water, has several health benefits. Because it does not contain lactose, soy or casein, a milk product similar to gluten, almond milk is suitable for students who are allergic to more than just regular milk.
It also does not contain any animal products and is consequently a favorite of vegetarians and vegans.
Even non-allergic omnivores sometimes prefer almond milk because it contains fewer calories than dairy and soy, or simply because they find it tasty.
“It’s just like any other health trend,” Norton said. “Almond milk is popular, especially in the girl world. So when people started talking to me about it, I got really excited.”
Though the results of the survey haven’t yet been tallied, some said they don’t think the demand will be there.
“I have mentioned it to some of the clients here, but when I said it would be possibly a dollar more, they did not like the idea,” said Max Lopez, the manager of the Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf at the School of Cinematic Arts. “I’m not opposed to trying to bring it in. I haven’t had a lot of requests or specific requests because [people are] happy with the soy option we have.”
At the Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf in the Ronald Tutor Campus Center, a “regular” cafe vanilla costs $3.75. If Lopez’s estimate that almond milk will cost an extra dollar is correct, the total cost of a 16 ounce drink would be close to $5.
Some students were less concerned with the actual issue of almond milk, than the fact that they believed there were more pressing issues, such as unhealthy food options in general and the abundance of plastic and paper to-go containers.
“By no means are we investing large amounts of resources in this [almond milk],” Director of University Affairs Andrew Menard said. “We got a lot of exciting projects going on this semester. This is just a small little focus group.”
Some other projects that University Affairs is currently pursuing include putting new windows and blinds in university housing, adding printers and weight racks in dormitory buildings and reserving parking on game days for commuter students.
“I think USG likes to conquer the big things, but if we hear something small that maybe we could fix, we’re more than willing to listen,” Norton said.