SIU athletics boost athlete nutrition

By Ted Ward, @TedWard_DE

Without food and nutrition, there is no life. 

Saluki athletes have access to a fueling station at SIU Arena, which provides snacks at the athlete’s leisure. They also have access to the dining halls.  

SIU swimming coach Rick Walker said it is important for athletes to eat healthily and not overindulge on free food. 


“What you take in is the life source for your body,” he said. “It’s important to put in the right foods. Everyone is different and their calorie intake will be different across the board.” 

The NCAA changed its policy about what food products could be provided to athletes in April 2014, giving universities more freedom of what they could offer.

Dining hall meal plans are created by nutritionists and strength trainers for every team.

Junior inside linebacker Chase Allen said he learned about the significance of healthy eating early in his collegiate career.

“We learned quickly to not have too much and be smart about what we eat heading into practice and game day,” Allen said. “It was an adjustment, but it was a necessary one.”

An SIU alumnus, who Athletic Director Tommy Bell would not name, made the initial donation to fund the fueling station. Bell said others have expressed interest in donating.

Bell said the program benefits athletes and the graduate assistants who work at the fueling station. He said it provides the students valuable experience working in the nutrition field. 


Allen said the meals help during the season.

“As players, we don’t have time to go home and cook dinner,” he said. “To have that option there for us to have a chance to eat before practice, it really helps out a lot.” 

Junior men’s golfer Brandon Carlson likes the fueling station’s convenience and the opportunity it provides for student-athletes.

“We’re done with workouts [when the station opens], so to come up here and eat breakfast, then go to class … It’s all readily available to you,” he said. 

Carlson said he gets meals after morning workouts before his 10 a.m. class.

Sophomore inside linebacker Markese Jackson said going to the fueling station is a daily routine.

“I’m able to … have some type of nutrition to run on,” Jackson say. “There’s nothing unhealthy there to eat, so we can grab as much as we feel we need.” 

Sophomore women’s swimmer Mikaela Montgomery said the meal plan and refueling station helps save money on food expenses. She said it is crucial to swimmers, who burn a lot of calories during practice. 

Bell said the program, which will continue into next year, has received excellent feedback. He said he hopes to expand the program with more donations. 

Ted Ward can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @TedWard_DE