In 2013, the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) launched the Healthy Campus Initiative, with a goal of being the healthiest campus in America. With the opening of its new new dining hall, the Bruin Plate, the university is certainly on its way to achieving that goal.
The new facility is part of a housing development project that brought 1,500 new beds to campus. “There has been a real move by UCLA to make the university more of a residential campus, so the idea was to have more beds and more spaces available to students so they could live on campus rather than having to commute,” said Rebecca Kendall, senior media relations representative.
Bruin Plate is all about healthy eating. “The idea of healthy eating in the facility really came about from student feedback,” said Daryl Ansel, director of Food and Beverage for UCLA's Housing and Hospitality Services. “Prior to this, we had developed a remodeled dining hall that features Pan-Asian food. That filled a certain void and a certain desire by our students. We had already been in the mode of doing a lot of dialogue with our students through focus groups, surveys, etc., and the next thing we heard was they wanted fresher food, healthier food, less processed food. That was the start of it.”...
Like many schools across the country, the State University of New York (SUNY) Oswego has a number of students who have special dietary needs.
“I have about 40 students who have special dietary needs,” said Sarah Formoza, registered dietitian with Auxiliary Services.
When students report to Formoza that they have a special dietary need, she sends them a profile to complete that helps her get to know their needs. After the profile is completed, a meeting is set up at the dining hall the student will use most.
“At the meeting are myself, the student and the manager in that building,” she said. “We sit down and get some dietary history on them, get an idea of some foods that they like. Then it all depends on what the allergy is. I can use gluten-free as an example, because about half of those 40 students are on a gluten-free diet. That one is huge. I will show them the special gluten-free area, and we will do a tour of the dining room, and sometimes introduce them to the kitchen staff and the cooks. We will go through the menu and see if they are able to just eat off of our menu, or if maybe we need to accommodate them otherwise.” ...
The senior management team of Cornell Dining, as well as students and other members at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y., recently spent five days following different diets and lifestyles to discover how their customers eat on campus.
“Our intent was two-fold,” said Michele Lefebvre, RD, CDN, director, Nutrition Management at Cornell Dining. “Not only does it give our frontline staff an opportunity to learn — they are going to get a lot of questions through the week. We are all going to be asking them, 'What's vegan? What's gluten-free? What has dairy in it?' We are going to force them to really learn what they are serving. I do food allergy training all the time and you can train, but when they are forced to really look at something, they learn it in a much different way.”
She continued, “It also provides our managers and staff with a different perspective. It has given them an opportunity to create new ideas, come up with some new menus, new stations and so forth.”