Sidney Slon/Contributing Photographer Fresh Impressions, a new station replacing Sweets and Eats, serves vegetarian and vegan food in the Marketplace.

The Marketplace is now offering options for vegans and vegetarians with a new station, Fresh Impressions.

Housed in the space formerly operating as Sweets and Eats, Fresh Impressions is located by Cakes and Eggs and serves fruit and vegetable juices and zoodle bowls, a dish that consists of zucchini noodles and vegetables.

Tom LaSarso, director of retail operations at Binghamton University, wrote in an email that push from student groups like the Student Culinary Council (SCC) helped drive the decision to open a vegetarian dining option.

“We have heard from members of the SCC and other student groups that the Marketplace does not offer enough vegan [and] vegetarian options,” LaSarso wrote. “And while all outlets in the Marketplace have these options in some fashion, they are often not noticeable, not prominent, not dedicated.”

When the Bearcat Cafe closed in the Marketplace in fall 2017, the space was originally going to be used for tabling for student groups. According to LaSarso, Sweets and Eats was added as a temporary placeholder, but when the plans for student programming were stopped, the need for a new dining area emerged.

The success of a special zoodle event at Cakes and Eggs in spring 2018 prompted University Dining Services to pursue a new option that would become Fresh Impressions. According to LaSarso, Cakes and Eggs sold out of zoodles in one night.

“Our Marketplace management team worked all summer testing recipes and formulating a plan for a dedicated vegan [and] vegetarian station,” LaSarso wrote.

YuHan Bae, vice president of the SCC and a sophomore majoring in systems science and industrial engineering, wrote in an email that he’s excited about having a dining option that offers various vegetarian dishes.

“There are so many delicious vegetarian [and] vegan dishes in general besides basic salads and we were excited to introduce them onto our campus,” Bae wrote. “As a council and a school, we want to be ahead of the game when it comes to healthy food options because the right food improves the immune system, increases brain activity, and overall mood and health.”

Zachary Pinto, financial officer of the SCC and a sophomore majoring in economics, said it’s important to provide a vegetarian option on campus because of the environmental consequences stemming from the meat industry.

“I think it’s important for everyone on a college campus to realize the environmental effects meat and even tofu can have,” Pinto said. “They all use a lot of water during their productions, so it might be a good idea to educate yourself on how you can personally cut down on your personal consumption of water.”

Anna McClosky, a sophomore majoring in biomedical engineering, said she has been a vegetarian her entire life and that vegetarian and vegan food on campus has been lacking.

“Sometimes it’s troubling to find good vegetarian options,” McClosky said. “There are always options on campus, but now it’s really nice to have a new place for a constant source of nutrition. Having options is comforting in knowing I will always have something to eat and still can have a healthy, well-rounded diet.”

According to Brianna Thomas, a sophomore majoring in biology, Fresh Impressions will be able to help her continue her lifestyle.

“I like eating healthy because it makes me feel more energized and therefore I am more productive,” Thomas said. “I think it’s important that we have healthier eating options on campus because students need quick convenient foods that won’t also make them feel sick 20 minutes later. The central location in the Marketplace makes it very accessible no matter where you live on campus.”

Fresh Impressions is open Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., and on Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.