From alternative diets to intramural athletics, Pacific University students embrace healthy lifestyles in new ways, on and off campus.
What’s for lunch? A decade ago, the answer may have been uninspiring: Hamburgers and chicken strips, lackluster vegetables and starchy potatoes. Don’t forget an ample supply of cold cereal and a salad bar that served as the vegetarian option.
In a 2001 issue of The Index, Pacific’s student newspaper, Martha Calus-McLain ’03—now director of alumni relations—wrote about students’ search for more vegetarian options on campus and in Forest Grove.
Students in the story talk about going to Taco-Time for a bean burrito or seeking out cheese-free pizza to meet their vegetarian or vegan needs. A list of vegetarian offerings at local restaurants, with their prices, was included with the story: There were 15 items on the entire list, including fettucini alfredo, veggie pizza and garden Szechuan vegetables.
Accommodating the trend toward alternative diets was a challenge, then-food services director Jeff Marsh told The Index.
“Health food is still a specialized market, but it’s changing. Some things treated alien 20 years ago, such as tofu and milk byproducts, are common-place now,” he said. But, he added, “Chicken strips are still the No. 1 seller during the day and fry-night is still the best-selling night.”
Food at Pacific has come a long way in 10 years. Students may still, at times, complain about the food (isn’t that part of the college experience?) but the choices have undoubtedly expanded.
Today, ARAMARK, Pacific’s food services provider, offers menus including animal-based, vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free and local choices to the 1,300 students, staff and faculty members who eat daily meals at the University Center during the academic year.
“A lot more people are aware of healthy options,” said Bethany Bigelow, who has worked as dining services director since 2007.
Signs in the cafeteria area point out options at stations set up by food type. There are sandwiches and pizza, a salad bar and sushi bar, a Mongolian grill and more. Nearby, a combination mini-store, coffee house and deli, The Bistro, also offers ready-made, pre-packaged organic, vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free selections for purchase.
ARAMARK has sought out expert advice in increasing healthy options on campus and meeting student demand, as well as in educating students about their choices.
Last year, ARAMARK invited Mark Reinfeld, a well-known vegan chef, to offer a two-day training at Pacific. Eight other colleges attended, with dining staff learning how to incorporate vegan choices in university food and how to do so properly (by separating utensils and cooking areas for vegan and animal-based products).
Meanwhile, vegan nutritionist Kimasia Spratt also provided seminars last spring on the Forest Grove campus. Spratt is a certified holistic nutritionist, personal trainer and award-winning body-builder and model, as well as a devoted vegan. She talked to students about how to be creative in finding a balanced meal in what is available.