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What's On Your Plate? Healthy Eating in Dining Halls

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First Dining Services and Healthy UNH made healthy eating easier with the development of an interactive map that offers the nutritional facts on foods offered in the dining halls and campus retail stores. Now, they’re putting that message on your plate.

Holloway Commons recently began using the Wildcat Plate, whose design has four quarters depicting the four food groups—fruits, whole grains, vegetables and lean proteins—along with suggestions on what to eat. Under ‘whole grains,’ for example, it reads: Try whole wheat pasta, brown rice, or quinoa. The protein quarter suggests opting for chicken, fish or tofu.

Inspired by U.S. Department of Agriculture MyPlate campaign launched last year, the idea is to get diners to portion their food choices. MyPlate replaced the complex food pyramid as a simpler way to know what best to eat. The Wildcat Plate will show up in all UNH dining halls beginning next semester.

“When the USDA launched their plate version of the food pyramid last summer, it seemed like a natural step to move the portion concept into practice,” says Kimberly Persson, project director for Healthy UNH and the N.H. Institute for Health Policy and Practice. “We are thrilled to have partnered with Dining Services on this project. Every little bit of education helps and working as a team only makes our messages stronger. We’re hoping this ‘in your face’ approach helps campus community members eat a bit more broccoli and a few less cookies.”

Dining Services has eliminated its use of trans fat, introduced more whole grain products and reduced the amount of processed foods served as well as reducing portion sizes for muffins and desserts.

“Dining Services has been perpetually working on creating a more healthful dining experience. The Wildcat Plate is an educational tool that raises awareness of proper menu selection and portioning to our guests and aids in that healthy experience,” says David Hill, of Dining Services.

In March, UNH Dining won a Goldie Award from FoodService Director Magazine for its use of the Guiding Stars menu labeling system, which rates foods with one to four stars based on its nutritional value.

The eating guide map (http://www.healthyunh.unh.edu/Dining/  ) that was unveiled in February lets diners make choices based on a legend that provides information on each food choice. The key defines http://foodpro.unh.edu/LegendImages/Lite.jpglite choices as less than 350 calories, 10 grams fat, 750 mg sodium per serving; http://foodpro.unh.edu/LegendImages/VG.jpgvegan as having no animal products; and http://foodpro.unh.edu/LegendImages/V.jpgvegetarian as plant-based, including dairy and eggs.

For more information on Healthy UNH visit http://www.unh.edu/healthyunh/. For more on UNH Dining visit http://www.unh.edu/dining/.