By Ellie Wilson, MS, RDN
Off to college! This is a hectic time for new and returning students, as they prepare for their fall semester. In addition to new classes and new friends, they are likely to find many new food opportunities in college dining.
The classic “freshman 15” – referring to the average 15 pounds of weight gain for new college students — is an almost iconic phrase associated with equally iconic, traditional norms of students eating less healthful food when away from home. Snacking and noshing on the array of fast-food items often found in college neighborhoods at all times of day and night, and comfort foods like pasta, meat loaf and potatoes in college dining services, have been solid standards of the college experience.
However, college food service is undergoing a transformation, as passionate students raised in the age of made-to-order everything and easy access to ethnic and global cuisines like Thai and Mexican are demanding more diversity and better quality. Seeking more healthful choices, college students also are driving food-service demand for local, sustainably sourced foods, as well as requiring schools to help them meet special dietary needs, like vegetarian and gluten-free choices, or avoiding food-related allergies. Ingredient transparency and a dynamic, diverse dining program is now a marketing opportunity for colleges.
I love these trends, and I encourage students to explore all of their great options. Learn more about where your food comes from and explore the expertise of the food service team. The chef team is working hard to bring flavor and authenticity to the plate, partnering with the registered dietitian-nutritionist on the team, who is a great resource for special diets, and learning how food can support academics and sports.
With an appetite for learning, experience the cuisines and connections food can bring at college, and ensure choices can enhance health and success.
Have a great year!
LiveSmart supports the Classroom Enrichment Fund at the Community Foundation for the Greater Capital Region and is made possible by donations from St. Peter’s Health Partners and Price Chopper, with promotional services provided by the Times Union and WNYT/NewsChannel 13. LiveSmart is compiled by Helen Susan Edelman, Project Director. This project ensures 70,000 students and teachers in the Capital Region have equal access to news content during the school year.