For years, UB dining officials have heard students talk about
eating healthier:What we really want are more vegetables, fruits
and whole grain foods. And when it was meal show time and the
students had to choose, they did what they always have done. They
grabbed pizza, burgers and fries.
Not any more, say campus dining staff and management. UB
officials watching over student eating habits have noticed some
unmistakable shifts. Not only are students saying they want
healthier food options, they actually are eating that way.
“Over the past few years, our Campus Dining and Shops has
received an increase in comments from students, faculty and staff
looking for food that reflects an increased awareness of eating
healthier and staying fit,” says Raymond Kohl, marketing
manager for UB Campus Dining and Shops.
“Chicken wings, pizza and burgers are always going to be
student favorites, but we also hear and see students making
sensible choices,” says Kohl. “From the steel-cut
oatmeal at Jamba Juice to the fresh fruit parfaits at Bert’s,
our customers are looking for a variety of healthier eating
“They want to have ways to incorporate some healthy eating
habits into their routine.”
These days, campus dining workers—from top management to
those watching the daily choices from the front lines of the
serving areas—have noticed some changes. Students are
actually voting with their hands—in emails—and
appetites—in actual food choices.
Consider this email from UB student Matthew Waldman:
“I would like to thank the Goodyear dining staff with a
special thank you to the lady with the blonde hair (Roseanne
Wiktor, kitchen manager) who is usually around for meals,”
wrote Waldman. “I greatly appreciate all of the healthy
options that were made available for this year. It is very
important to teach students, especially freshmen, to eat well.
“Over the past few days, I have been overly satisfied with
the brown rice, whole wheat garlic bread, whole wheat pasta. This
is a great start! I would love to see if whole wheat pizza would be
able to be tried out for the dining hall. Thanks again!”
Campus dining officials, who preside over some of the most
dramatic and largest food-service operations in this part of the
state, can do more than tell stories to back up their claims.
“From results in our annual National Association of
College and University Food Services (NACUFS) Customer Satisfaction
Survey, there has been a steady increase in how important
“nutritional content,” “variety of healthy menu
choices” and “variety of vegetarian options” are
here at UB,” says Kohl.
When asked how important nutritional content was, 86 percent of
the students responding in 2010 said somewhat or very important.
Two years later, that percentage increased to 88.
In 2010, 83 percent of the students said having a variety
of healthy menu choices was somewhat or very important. In 2012,
that number increased to 86 percent. When asked about having a
variety of vegetarian options, 59 percent said it was somewhat or
very important in 2010. Two years later, that increased to 61
While these increases are not huge, campus dining officials see
them as significant, especially when put together with other
information officials have seen, such as their instincts and
observations on the daily serving line.
And UB campus dining has answered the call. UB has added
more vegetarian options across campus. For example, a second Edgy
Veggies location opens this fall inside Bert’s Food Court
(Talbert Hall, North Campus). All three residential dining centers
serve fresh-cut fruit each day. Guests can customize many entree
choices to be vegetarian.
Bravo Pasta, part of Pistachio’s restaurant in the Student
Union, now serves whole grain pasta.
Another healthy option that customers will find this year is a
band new line of hummus made fresh on campus by Campus Dining and
Shops. Flavors include white bean, black bean, roasted red pepper,
garlic and classic (plain).
“Hummus is a great vegetarian option, plus it is high in
protein,” says Caryn Hufford, Campus Dining and Shops’
In the residential dining centers, students are literally eating
up a new item called quinoa (pronounced “keen-wah”),
according to Kohl. It’s a delicious, highly nutritious,
grain-like crop from South America. Served cooked, it’s high
in protein, low in fat and an excellent source of iron and
Jeff Brady, director of Campus Dining and Shops, has his own
observations, in particular about habits in the residential dining
- Brady says there has been a “huge” switch from
regular milk to soy milk, which has substantially more calcium than
regular milk. “We’ve seen students transition to soy
milk,” he says. “We’re going through about four
times as much as last year. It’s a great healthy
- Egg whites have become more popular in omelets made in all
dining centers. People are asking for less meat in their
omelets,” he says, “and spinach has grown five times in
our units. Everybody wants spinach.”
- Low-fat yogurt bars have been popular in each dining center.
But in the next two weeks, UB is changing to Greek yogurt, which
contains no fat. “There is a little bit of a cost
associated with Greek yogurt,” says Brady, “but
it’s the right thing to do to give students a choice.
They’re one of the most popular food bars in the
- Campus dining is trying to get students to move away from
sugary drinks, Brady says. “A lot more students get their
beverages out of water machines on campus,” he says.
“We’re offering chilled and carbonated water, which has
no sugar whatsoever. We’re telling students it’s the
- The healthier habits are evident in salads, too. “Our
salad bars always have lines,” he says. “Students
gravitate right toward these salad bars. They also are more
conscious about the dressing they’re using. Students are
reading labels, looking for the light dressing that has fewer
calories. That’s a great sign.”
- Campus dining officials removed all salt-and-pepper shakers
from the tables. “We are having the students go to the spice
centers,” Brady says. “We’ve cut our
salt-purchasing by 60 percent by doing this. That’s a
win-win. Hopefully, we’re educating our students at the same