An Apple a Day

Young woman holding an apple, seated outside.

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.

Student holding up an apple, showing the healthy food options at Pacific.

Food is only one pillar of good health, and students at Pacific University don’t get to ignore the others—particularly physical activity.

Many freshmen kick off their Pacific experience with a Voyage, offered through Pacific Outback. They spend a few days before classes begin bonding with their classmates while climbing Smith Rock, shooting the Deschutes River, surfing off the Oregon Coast or foraging the urban delights of Portland.

Throughout the year, Outback offers even more outdoor and urban adventures for students.

The program “opens doors for life-long recreation,” said Chad Toomey ’94, Outback director. “We very much focus on human-powered endeavors and activities that invite participants to work with one another and move their bodies to solve problems. 

“I do very much view our program as a wellness program.”

Beyond the immediate activity, Outback experiences also give students confidence and leadership experience.

That’s exactly what Forrest Carpenter ’12 experienced as an Outback trip leader. One of his most memorable experiences, he said, was a spring break backpacking trip down the northern California coast.

“Many of the lessons I learned from this trip I have been able to apply not only to my trip leadership, but to my academic, social and working parts of my life,” he said.

“I think that is one of the greatest benefits of being a part of this program: the ability to use the lessons learned in almost every part of life. The Outback not only gave me the opportunity to grow as an individual, but it provided me an escape from the stresses of college and course work.”

Back on the Forest Grove campus, students also enjoy activity in and out of the gym. Recent improvements to the Bill and Cathy Stoller Center, Pacific’s athletic complex, are helping more students get moving, said Steve Klein, director of student activities and the University Center. Use of the Stoller Center has significantly increased with the addition of new fitness equipment and large TV screens in the weight room, as well as artificial turf in the fieldhouse.

Eventually, he said, a climbing wall or bouldering site might be another addition to serve student interests.

"For many Pacific students, health will, of course, become a career."

Students also have access to the City of Forest Grove’s aquatic center and to bowling at Rainbow Lanes in Forest Grove.

Pacific also offers 21 competitive intercollegiate athletics, as well as a rich intramural program that draws about a third of the student population, said Chris Stanley, director of intramural sports.

Students play side by side with faculty and staff at sports including indoor soccer, tennis, flag football, coed volleyball and racquetball.

“It really gives non-collegiate athletes the chance to get their competition fix,” he said.

For many Pacific students, health will, of course, become a career. There are the obvious options in the College of Health Professions and College of Optometry—from physician assistants to audiologists to occupational and physical therapists to psychologists. This year, Pacific’s College of Arts & Sciences also has added a major in public health and a minor in outdoor leadership, and exercise science has long been a popular major for undergrads.

For students outside the realm of health-related fields, courses still provide a way to learn about and act out
good health.

The Exercise Science Department administers a physical activity program that offers more than 30 different activity classes. Courses range from walking to training for competition, said Philip Schot, chair of the department.

“We have a broad array of physical activity classes…good for your health and good for your stress,” he said. “Fundamentally, exercise should be enjoyable and fun. People are more likely to exercise if they find some inherent value to it.”

This story first appeared in the Fall 2012 issue of Pacific magazine. For more stories, visit

Tuesday, Oct. 9, 2012