Campus Dining Options that Provide Health Benefits to Students

Attending classes, getting involved and having time to socialize are all a part of a college student's life. But when you're racing around campus, it can be difficult to put healthy eating habits first, instead choosing whatever is quick and simple.

While picking food that can be eaten on the go seems like the right choice, making healthy food can be easy to do by utilizing the different dining halls and food places on campus.

John Gorman, the residential manager for the Birch Tree Inn, offered insight on ways for students to eat healthy on campus.

"It is very tough today to keep from eating too much sugar [and] too much fat. We offer nutritious items, but it's up to the customer to make informed decisions," Gorman said. "When we cook something, we make small batches of that so it's the freshest we can get to you guys."

At both the Birch Tree Inn and the Trustee's Pavilion, there are many healthy options for students to choose from. Dining Services uses fresh products to assure that students are getting the most nutrients from their food.

Gorman said that their main areas of focus are the taste, appearance and nutritional values of the meals they serve.

"We change our menus per meal period. We have wholesome brown rice, whole wheat pasta that we use during different menu cycles," Gorman said. "All our vegetables and produce is cut fresh daily, so we're always getting fresh produce daily."

Not only does Dining Services use the best food products, but they also assure that the food is prepared in a healthy way.

"We tried to cut back on frying foods and are doing more steam and flash cooking," Gorman said. "[Also,] on the menu pages at each station, we have the nutritional information [including] calories, fat and if it contains nut products."

Besides offering healthy options to students, Gorman also discussed the accommodations that can be made for students with allergies. If a student asks one of the cooks, managers, or supervisors who are on the floor, food can be specially prepared for the individual with dietary restrictions.

"We also run different programs for people with special allergies, [such as] soy free, gluten free, lactose free and for items that have nuts in them [or anything someone may be allergic to] we post a red star," Gorman said. "We [also] feature vegan items without meat, dairy, seafood, usually at the Mediterranean section, as well as vegetarian items."

If you want to avoid just eating a typical salad from the salad bar, Sodexo offers different types of salad daily.

"On our salad bars, we've been featuring quinoa. We've been making composed salads," Gorman said. "[For example] today, Tuesday, we have a lo mein salad, roasted lentil salad and a quinoa salad."

There are also healthy options in the Atrium and the C-store for students who want a grab-and-go option between classes.

"Our coffee selections are fair trade coffee selections, and we also feature herbal teas and Lipton teas," Gorman said. "In the Atrium and at the convenience store, we do sell a lot of convenient items which are healthy. We sell pre-packed salads and sandwiches that we make in house and are fresh and have the nutritional values [listed] on them."

The one thing to remember is that it's up to students to make healthy and informed decisions.

"We do have the fresh, nutritional items and they're in here," Gorman said. "But it's up to the customer to make those choices. It comes up to the customer [and] that they make informed decisions. It's up to the customer to make the choices."

For menus and nutritional information, check out the Ramapo Dining website.