Rutgers team informs students about responsible eating


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Photo by Tian Li |

Healthy dining options are available at Rutgers dining halls. The Rutgers University Healthy Dining Team offers students advice on nutritious food options.


Eating healthy is difficult in college. With endless buffets of food and double swipe take-out options, students sometimes lose sight of a healthy diet.

The Rutgers University Healthy Dining Team, a combined program between Rutgers University Dining Services and the Department of Nutritional Sciences, aims to combat the tendency to slump into the vortex of ramen and soda. RUHDT educates students about healthy eating and living on campus.

The team is composed of eight members. Besides newsletters, booths and events, the team also participates in research through surveys at the booths. 

Jesse Tannehill, a member of the RUHDT, said the annual research is geared toward the college-aged population. 

Tannehill, a School of Environmental and Biological senior, said many of RUHDT’s findings have been selected for presentation and publication.

“My favorite part is working with other [RUHDT] members to help inform students with what’s going on in the nutrition world,” he said. “We work hard to educate fellow students and help them make healthy dining choices.”

Through weekly newsletters, RUHDT informs students about general nutrition information as well as facts about the many fad diets that go in and out of fashion. 

Bridget Skinner, a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore, said she is also a captain and an employee at Neilson Dining Hall. 

“I think the newsletters that we have at the dining hall are very important for people to read,” she said. 

But Skinner said not enough people read them. 

“It’s important to start eating healthy now instead of later,” she said. “Those newsletters are very informational.”

RUHDT newsletters are available at all of the dining halls weekly.

Tannehill said the best way to educate individuals on healthy eating is through fun outlets that get people listening. 

“We run the Iron Chef competition on campus,” he said. “We also have live cooking shows.” 

RUHDT also has a program, the “Healthy Meal,” where students plan and prepare a meal that will be served throughout the dining hall. 

Monthly, RUHDT also hosts booths at each dining hall to educate students on nutrition. 

Peggy Policastro, nutrition specialist at RUHDT, said she has been working with the group for more than 10 years. 

She explained the stresses of the college environment can have lasting effects on the body. 

Policastro cannot testify to all college students eating an unhealthy diet, but just thinks it important for students to be educated on nutrition so they can make good choices regarding their bodies.

RUHDT’s monthly informative booths are set up as themes with an interactive activity to update students on a nutritional issue. Prizes are then given away to reinforce the facts that were learned.

“This week, we have a ‘Swap Out Sugar’ booth,” she said. “A food that is typically high in sugar is shown and a student has to roll a dice. With that number, they have to guess if there is more or less sugar in that food. Substitutions with less sugar are presented to the student. Our prizes are sugar-free mints.”

RUHDT also helps students with allergies to eat healthy. They instruct students on how to eat gluten-free, vegetarian, peanut-free and lactose-free. They also provide important tips on how to eat healthy when getting take-out from the dining halls.

According to RUHDT’s website, if the take-out line is filled with starchy, fried foods, students can request a salad for lunch and dinner. They are advised to only eat half of the pasta serving on pasta night and to order a veggie burger instead of a ground beef one. Drinking water or seltzer water is advised instead of sugary drinks.

“Informing students and educating them about healthy nutrition is important. They should know how to treat their bodies healthy,” Policastro said.


Jillian Pastor

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