Courtesy | Cal Poly Corporation

This post has been paid for by Cal Poly Corporation’s Campus Dining, and does not reflect the editorial coverage of Mustang News. 

Recently, Cal Poly Campus Dining was the focus of a food environment report, which found that 12 percent of the 314 entrées offered at all 18 Campus Dining locations were considered in good health. This report generated a lot of headlines thrown at Campus Dining.

The truth is, Cal Poly Campus Dining is not alone in the struggle to offer more healthy options while also catering to the tastes of our many customers. As the report showed, Campus Dining’s numbers were on par with universities across the country. That’s not to say this is acceptable. However, it points to a bigger issue for our society as a whole. The easy and often less expensive choices may not always be the healthiest, but they are well loved. Year after year, Cal Poly students vote Chick-fil-A as their favorite Campus Dining venue. Campus Dining is continually striving for a balance to serve all campus community members taste preferences while providing the freshest, healthiest food possible.

One example of this is our recent Great Kitchens accreditation for our gluten-free kitchen. Campus Dining was recently audited by the Beyond Celiac organization as part of their certification process. After the audit, one of their members said:

Your team has done the hard work to make Cal Poly Campus Dining a shining and outstanding example of how GREAT Schools can be used as a guide to excellence in serving students with gluten-related disorders.

This accreditation means that Campus Dining has successfully passed a two-year audit, and our staff is properly trained, and our kitchen upholds gluten-free standards and safety protocols. The philosophy behind Campus Dining’s gluten-free station is to offer a dining experience that is inclusive of all students including those with special diets and to provide them with a variety of safe and nutritious offerings. This gluten-free station has created a culture that involves the well-being of the students and faculty, embracing the processes and procedures necessary to maintain the safety and quality of gluten-free and allergen-free meals.

In addition to providing gluten-free options, Campus Dining offers locally grown produce — not only is it fresher, but it also keeps money in the community and reduces the carbon footprint. Campus Dining is proud to support numerous local farms and artisans, including over 100 different local, organic, and sustainable products throughout campus, including Cal Poly produced products:

One of the best parts of attending or working at Cal Poly is being able to enjoy fresh food, grown and produced by Cal Poly students. In addition to utilizing Cal Poly products in our recipes, Campus Dining features them in both Campus and Village Markets. Shelves are stocked with products from the Cal Poly Organic Farm, Cal Poly Sustainable Farm, and various ag enterprises including chocolate, jam, honey, cheese, ice cream, eggs and wine. When students and staff buy these products, they are supporting the Cal Poly community as well eating high quality, locally produced food.

Campus Dining serves twenty thousand guests a day and handles thousands of pounds of local produce, select meat and dairy products every quarter. We have a butchery as well as a bakery on premise to serve our students fresh, quality, healthy meals.

To follow through on our commitment to health, Campus Dining hired a Registered Dietitian and established a Wellness Office. Over the past two years, 1,500 students have been counseled on good eating habits through our Wellness Office. To help students make healthy choices, we also created a nutrition calculator that contains all the nutritional information of more than 1,000 menu items served on campus. This tool helps students customize their meals as healthy as they would like. Last year, Campus Dining launched a campus-wide Wellness Wednesday Everyday campaign that features our Registered Dietitian, Megan Coats. Every Wednesday she also hosts a question-and-answer forum on Facebook.

As for the future of Cal Poly students’ health and happiness, Campus Dining has aligned its strategic vision with University President Jeffrey Armstrong’s 2022 vision in providing world-class facilities. We are currently developing our Campus Dining Facilities Master Plan and evaluating our venue concepts and menu options. Part of this plan is to gather input from all students, staff, and faculty. We are planning a public forum in April. We invite you to join the conversation and have a voice in Cal Poly’s dining future.

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