Officials want healthy foods in campus shops

William Gruenberg

Health conscious students may be aware of healthy food options around campus, but Associated Students along with University Corporation and professionals at the Klotz Student Health Center are focusing on new programs to get impulse eaters to think twice before biting into that Whopper.

A recent resolution filed by University Affairs Committee is asking for nutritional information to be displayed for all foods sold on campus and pushing for the increase of marketing and availability of healthy foods.

“Two great successes that we’ve had are the recent additions of organic foods in the convenience stores and healthy choice stickers to help students identify healthier alternatives,” said Sen. Byron Baba, chairman of UAC.

Ellen Bauersfeld, health educator and dietician at the Klotz Student Health Center, is satisfied with the available food supply, but agrees that nutritional information may push students away from foods high in sugar and fat. She feels nutrition habits depend on the individual, but available information will help people make more educated choices.

“When you walk into the bookstore complex (convenience store), you see nice cups of fruit, string cheese and salads,” Bauersfeld said. “However human nature has other plans. When we walk into the store and we may be busy and sleep deprived and want sugar or caffeine, it’s natural for students to gravitate away from the fruit cup and right to a 700-calorie muffin.”

Bauersfeld recommends that all students try to eat at least two fruits and three servings of veggies a day, or vice versa. She also lists sleep depravation as a leading cause of unhealthy eating. She says when people are hungry and tired, they usually do not contemplate nutrition the way they normally may.

Findings from a national college health assessment survey conducted in 2006 say that over 30 percent of college students are either overweight or obese. Of the 4,806 students from 117 institutions surveyed, only seven percent said they ate five or more servings of fruits and vegetables a day. Six percent said they were getting enough sleep to wake up feeling rested every day during the week.

“To get where we are today, we have worked close together with University Corporation, and they have been really helpful and supportive,” Baba said.

Nicole Umali is a newly-appointed student board member of University Corporation and is positive about the direction in which the university is going.

“I do want more options, and it is somewhat limited. But with new vendors and the new arbor court, I’m looking forward to new and healthy options.”

Umali added that one of the new options will be El Pollo Loco that will serve flame-grilled chicken. According to their company website, El Pollo Loco has healthy options like skinless flame-grilled chicken breasts that contain less than 300 calories.

Sheela Bhongin, UAC Healthy foods specialist, has been trying to get the word out by passing out flyers and informing students at the recent University Health Fair.

“I think most students just don’t know what they are eating. They may be coming off of ‘all-nighters’ where they are eating really bad junk food,” Bhongin said. “Hey, if you’re hungry, are you really going to think about portion size?”

Bhongin has hopes for the healthy foods program far beyond just nutritional information.

“I’d like to encourage fellow students to try more soy and tofu-related meals. I would like to see more hot and balanced meals available besides just salads and fruits,” she said.

Baba admits that the AS Senate is suffering from a student deficit and says his committee could use all the help it can get.