BY JOHANA RESTREPO
The Wellness Advisory Board will soon welcome healthy dining at Norwalk Community College as part of their Wellness Initiative.
“People don’t realize what they eat has a tremendous amount of calories. We want to get everyone at NCC to think more and more about that, all part of an initiative to encourage health,” President David Levinson said.
Paul Gallo, Director of Exercise Science and Wellness, and Peter Vlandis, head of BESBE, the company that runs both East and West café services, are working together to “improve consumer health of any individual who is going to use the East and West café,” according to Gallo.
Gallo explained that the first step towards healthier meals is to raise awareness about what people are consuming by providing nutrition facts for current menu options at the café and cafeteria that do not already come with an FDA food label.
The nutrition chart will list volume, servings, total calories, total fat, total saturated fat and total sodium.
“Know Your Nutrients” will be posted along with the nutrition chart. It will explain what a specific nutrient is, why it is necessary to the body, the negative or positive effects the nutrient has on the body if too little or too much is consumed and the daily recommended amount for that nutrient, according to Gallo.
“This is a start. We are a work in progress, starting with the educational component. [The numbers] may make people consider healthier options,” Gallo said.
The café and cafeteria will start offering healthy foods as step two of the process. Vlandis is working with Gallo to provide students and faculty with healthier alternatives.
For example, instead of fries, people can have mashed potatoes, or grilled chicken instead of fried chicken.
“We really want to increase healthy foods in our cafeterias and are putting a lot of pressure on the café and cafeteria to have healthier options,” Levinson said.
The third step would be to “incentivize depending on funds,” Gallo said. If a student or faculty member eats three healthy meals a week, the fourth one would be free.
Gallo explained the third step would come once step one and two have come together and also stressed this step is not certain.
“This is a step-by-step process. It’s not something that can happen over night,” Gallo said.