Campus Dining hosted a food forum last Thursday, “State of Our Plate,” to get feedback on the current food options at Cal Poly and discuss plans for improvement.
Panelists from different disciplines of Cal Poly came to share their programs and research in relation to nutrition, sustainability and agriculture.
Cal Poly associate professor and co-author of Assessment of a University Campus Food Environment Dawn Neill started off the discussion by sharing her findings.
Neill, along with other researchers, used the Nutrition Environment Measures Survey (NEMS) to measure the nutritional quality, availability and price of food at restaurants and grocery stores.
Using this method to evaluate the Campus Dining venues, Neill found that healthful entrees are available at nine of the 18 venues. Therefore, Cal Poly scored 26 out of a possible 97 on the NEMS for Campus Dining (NEMS-CD).
“So Cal Poly NEMS-CD score is low, but it is consistent with other higher education institutions,” Neill said. “Most on-campus venues offer some sort of healthful entrees, but most entrees at these venues were not classified as healthful.”
Entrees were considered healthful if they contained no more than 800 calories, with less than 30 percent fat and less than 10 percent saturated fat. Only 12 percent of all entrees on campus are considered healthful.
In terms of sustainability, Energy and Sustainability Analyst for Facility Services Eric Veium spoke on the Cal Poly Zero Waste Program.
Approximately 80 percent of post-consumer waste, which is the trash that people have after food consumption, is currently going to landfill. Therefore, the plan is to work with organizations around the university to educate the campus community on the Zero Waste initiative.
Veium also wants Cal Poly to understand that people can stop waste at its source. By using a reusable water bottle or container instead of a plastic bottle or bag, waste is prevented before it can happen.
“This is a vision of the university to integrate the zero waste culture into the Mustang community,” Veium said. “It’s in your hands whether or not we are successful as university toward reaching zero waste.”
The next panelist was the assistant manager of Cal Poly’s Meat Processing Center, Morgan Metheny. Metheny spoke on the different animals on campus and the ways in which they are used to create and produce Cal Poly products.
Campus Dining’s executive chef and associate director Michael Albright spoke about the possible changes happening this year.
As part of the Fall 2016 Transition Plan, Campus Dining will be adding in two new food trucks as well as a Starbucks truck. Additional changes are going to be made to the dining venues around campus:
- There will be three new food options at the Avenue: a savory Asian concept, a Cal-Mex concept and a classic American burger concept, Albright said.
- Ciao will also be undergoing some reconstruction — it will be converted into a pub. It will still serve pizza, in addition to new items.
- Sandwich Factory will be expanding its food selection to include more artisan style breads and meats.
- Campus Market is putting in an ice cream parlor that will feature Cal Poly ice cream and will purchase local produce for the salad bar.
“We are constantly trying to do better at Campus Dining to bring more local and organic items to the table,” Albright said.
Certified Health Education Specialist for Campus Health and Well-Being Theresa Fagouri spoke on how students getting a nutritional diet has a strong impact on their health. She used this discussion as an opportunity to remind students of the Cal Poly Food Pantry. The pantry was created so students who are unable to access food can use this as a resource.
“We provide healthful options for students who may not have access to food,” Fagouri said. “Because for someone who can’t access food, that may just tip the iceberg.”
The final panelist was Campus Dining’s Registered Dietitian Megan Coats, who spoke on her collaboration with student clubs and departments on campus to provide educational outreach and support.
After the panelists gave their presentations, the floor was opened to the audience.
A member from Real Food Collaborative posed a question to the panel in regards to why Campus Dining has not reached out to student groups on campus.
Interim Executive Director and Associate Vice President of Commercial Services Lorlie Leetham said the scale of student groups wouldn’t be enough for the entire school. However, multiple members on the panel agreed that it is an avenue they are willing to explore.
The forum allowed Campus Dining to understand the campus climate in regards to nutritious and sustainable food options at Cal Poly.
“This forum is first an educational and information gathering opportunity,” Leetham said. “What we want to do is just share information and get feedback of what the real interest, expectations and concerns are in regards to food, specifically Campus Dining.”