The Healthy 15

Unlike many fads in foodservice, wellness is here to stay.

Published in Wellness Watch

University of Georgia, Athens

The menu at the University of Georgia is big. Every day there are more than 300 items on the docket, but before an item can make it to the serving line it must meet a strict nutrition standard checklist that was created by the foodservice team. Here are a few of the guidelines that menu items must meet:

  • Menu items must be labeled based on health content. For example, items that are less than 30% of total calories from fat and items that contain less than 15% of the daily saturated fat value are labeled.
  • Vegetarian and multiple healthy food and beverage choices must be available at every station. These options are foods that are low in added fat and sugar, low in sodium, low in saturated fat and contain no trans fat.
  • At least two vegan entrées must be featured daily in all locations.
  • Each dining facility must feature healthful vegan protein sources daily. Some options include beans, nuts, tofu and soy milk.
  • Menus must cater to students with specialized diets, including providing gluten-free and low-sodium options.

Beyond making the menu healthier, the university has a registered dietitian who educates students on nutrition principles and how to incorporate them into their daily lives. The dietitian is available for additional education purposes, including providing presentations upon request. Students may also take part in an eight-week Eating Smart Course where they can dig deeper into learning how to incorporate wellness into their busy routines. The dietitian is also available for private counseling sessions to discuss weight management, body fat percentage, exercise, food allergies and other health-related topics—for free.

One of the most unusual things that the university dining staff created is the menu labeling system. The menu symbols identify foods with specific nutritional guidelines, such as vegan, meatless, less than 30% of total calories from fat and Bon-i-fied Good (items the team deem healthiest). This system provides students and faculty with the information they need to make healthier choices every time they dine.

Students and faculty members aren’t the only ones who benefit from the foodservice programs. Many foodservice programs have used UGA Food Services as a resource, including the U.S Olympic Team’s nutrition research assistant, the U.S. Navy and five major universities. 

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