Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Meatless Monday in College Campuses

It was so fun to attend the annual College of the Canyons Healthy Lifestyle Fair last week where over 25 community organizations came together to promote healthy habits.

McKenzie with Sheri Barke, MPH, RD, CSSD, the on-campus registered dietitian
Our wonderful helper, Jaime!

The booth orchestrated by SNAC (the Student Nutrition & wellness Advocates at COC) specifically caught my attention for their display comparing a Meatless Monday meal to a traditional fast food option.

This is what the Meatless Monday meal looked like…

I’m sure you can picture the fast food option...

Lisa and I absolutely love Meatless Mondays. In fact, I wrote an article about the food movement in colleges across the country for Today’s Dietitian (below).

Campus Dining — More Universities Are Serving Healthier Cuisine to Students
By McKenzie Hall, RD, Today’s Dietitian, May 2013

College foodservice has stepped up its game in recent years by hiring dietitians to develop healthful eating initiatives and listening to students’ increased demands for more allergen-free foods on campus. So at many institutions, gone are the days when getting a four-year college education means students must say good-bye to high-quality, nutritious meals. Furthermore, colleges are taking the environment and social responsibility into account as part of the dining experience.

Here, Today’s Dietitian profiles some of these institutions in the United States and Canada known for their exceptional foodservice programs that are focused on providing students with healthier options.

Meat-Free Dining
Thanks to the popularity of plant-based eating, Meatless Monday, the nonprofit initiative developed in association with the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, is becoming popular on college campuses.

McGill University in Montreal, Canada, began its Meatless Monday program about one year ago to meet the needs of its large vegetarian and vegan student population, and the effort has proven successful. “We have seen our tofu purchases double in the past two years,” says Amelia Brinkerhoff, student sustainability coordinator for McGill’s food and dining services. “In particular, our vegan and vegetarian students are really happy with our offerings. They often come to college fearing that their eating lifestyles will be challenged in dining hall atmospheres, but they’ve given us a lot of positive feedback regarding the variety of options available.” These options include vegetable stir-fries, pizzas, tofu and veggie brochettes on the grill, gourmet paninis, curries, Asian-inspired dishes, and vegetarian lasagnas.

Even the students who choose to eat meat enjoy the meatless offerings as a way to apply what they’re learning in the classroom. “Students are learning about the environmental impacts of meat production, so the Meatless Monday offerings are a way for them to put their knowledge into action,” Brinkerhoff explains.

McGill University educates students about why reducing meat intake can have a positive effect on their health and the environment. The university’s goal is to give students choices and show them that eating more whole plant foods doesn’t necessarily equate to a large plate of steamed broccoli for lunch. “Our chefs and kitchen staff put as much effort into the vegetarian options as they do with our traditional meal options,” Brinkerhoff says.

Similarly, Cabrini College in Radnor, Pennsylvania, has expanded its Meatless Monday program to meet the increased demand for vegetarian meals and has placed an emphasis on nutrition education. Students can view cooking demonstrations, review educational materials, and listen to speakers as part of the Healthy Monday program, a nonprofit health program started in 2005 with the goal of ending chronic preventable diseases by offering a weekly prompt to start healthful behaviors.

After five years of marketing Meatless Monday meals at various food stations throughout campus, the college decided to open a vegan and vegetarian food station in its student restaurant this past September.

You can read the full article in Today’s Dietitian here.

Interested in bringing Meatless Monday to your campus? Start a campaign now in time for next school year by contacting your campus dining service provider. Be sure to check out the Campus Meatless Monday toolkit for helpful tips and ideas!

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