I recently read an article in the Vegetarian Times August 2013 issue, “The Cafeteria Report” by Juliet Pennington about a New York City public school that implemented an all-vegetarian meal plan for students. The initiative is a step in the right direction.
There’s been a lot of buzz lately about healthy diets. Terms like vegetarian, vegan, organic, CSA, local, green, non-GMO, gluten-free, etc are becoming common vocabulary among an increasing number of Americans. And, with the U.S. obesity rate as high as it is (35.7% of adult Americans, according to the CDC), starting to look at all diet options is a good idea to save lives.
In addition to the adult obesity issue, childhood obesity is also a concern, even First Lady Michelle Obama is behind a campaign to combat it called Let’s Move!. As we raise a generation on unhealthy diets and poor exercise habits, we’re dooming their futures.
The NYC Public School 244′s (The Active Learning Elementary School) switch to vegetarian cuisine will not only educate their students on good nutrition and food diversity (brown rice and plantains anyone?), it also feeds their bodies a nutritious, full meal. Since proper nutrition is key to having energy and focus during school, I’m sure the seasoned chickpeas will be more beneficial than the dry chicken patty common to most school hot lunches.
While I have an interest in child nutrition and vegetarianism (a veg myself), this article also reminded me of the UW-Stevens Point University Dining Services (UDS) and CPS Café menus. A reason UWSP interested me when choosing colleges was their strive to provide students with healthy options from local vendors. UWSP has many relationships with local farmers that allows them to provide students fresh, in-season, veggies as delicious options in DeBot Dining Center and the CPS Café.
UDS & CPS Café also provides a vast array of options for vegetarian and vegan diners. I never had a problem finding something filling, nutritious and yummy to eat at any food center on campus. Dishes at Upper DeBot were always tasty and they give you the opportunity to try new foods often. At CPS Café, it’s a great way to grab something unique, tasty, and fast when in the main classroom buildings (especially for us in the School of Business & Economics!). Who says you need to gain the freshman 15? It’s easy to eat well at UW-Stevens Point … and we’re fortunate! Not all campuses have such accommodating food programs.
Next time you stop in a UDS center to dine, survey your options and see what’s new to you. As student Bence Kalan said in the article, “There are so man other things to eat besides meant that are healthier, taste good, and don’t [contribute to] animals being killed.” Whether in it for the animals or not, adopting more fruit, veggies and whole grain into your diet will reap lasting benefits. Check out the food UW-Stevens Point serves up at the dining center or take a visit to the community farmer’s markets while the season lasts! You’ll be surprised how delicious meat-free can be!
Courtney Cerniglia is a senior at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point majoring in business administration and Spanish.