Texas Tech Invests in Healthy Dining Options
Hospitality Services caters to campus demand for healthy and dietary-specific menu options.
Written by Callie Jones
Introducing the New Smart Choices Sticker.
As student enrollment at Texas Tech University continues to grow at a record pace, Hospitality Services has catered, literally, to a growing demand for healthy and dietary-specific menu options at dining locations across campus.
Registered dietitian and Texas Tech alumna Mindy Diller was brought on board in late 2013 to assist Hospitality Services with providing awareness and education for students, faculty and staff with their nutritional and dietary needs, as well as to help expand resources Texas Tech already has in place.
“For us to better serve the campus community, it just makes sense for us to have someone like Mindy in our department,” said Alan Cushman, business manager for Hospitality Services. “We’re really excited to have her in support with Executive Chef Dewey McMurrey.”
Although Texas Tech has increased its healthy food options across campus, many students, faculty and staff are unaware these options exist. Furthermore, many first-year students away from their families for the first time require assistance with healthy eating or finding campus dining options compatible with dietary restrictions.
“Our students’ top three requests are for vegetarian, gluten-free and healthy choices,” Diller said. “Right now we’re reviewing what we currently have in our kitchens and trying to determine which ones are gluten-free or vegetarian, so we can highlight those.”
Although the majority of diners currently live on campus, Cushman said the commuter dining plan is growing and more faculty and staff are looking for healthy options.
“You look across campus and you’ll find there are different communities within our campus,” Cushman said. “We definitely want to make sure the food we’re providing at each location across campus fits every community’s needs.”
Last fall, the dining facility at Horn/Knapp was reopened as a Smart Choices dining location, with an increased menu of nutritional and dietary friendly options, including yogurt-based ranch dressing, daily fresh-made hummus, salmon and made-to-order flatbread pizza.
As students make the transition to college, many find that without high school athletics or mom’s cooking, and with the added component of exam stress, weight gain is inevitable unless adjustments are made.
In addition to an expansion of healthy options in the dining facilities, Diller provides hands-on counseling sessions for students. She and the student will go into different dining locations and learn what types of cooking surfaces are safe for specific dietary restrictions or which options encourage weight loss or weight gain.
“Being independent is something that’s just part of adult growth and part of the college experience,” Diller said. “We have to learn how to be independent with our food choices just like we have to learn to be independent with taking care of our own vehicles and bank accounts. It’s just as important, not only for long-term health and success, but for success as students and in the classroom.”
Diller and McMurrey will host a series of health and nutrition demonstrations at the Student Recreation Center throughout the semester and other events, including a healthy residence hall room demonstration this week.
“Food carries well into the residence halls and their off-campus environment,” Diller said. “Teaching them to be successful no matter what environment they are in is key.”
Although dining options can accommodate faculty and staff as well as parents and visitors to campus, Hospitality Services’ primary goal is to provide students the best possible options and resources.
“We’re here to help students in their educational needs and we’re here to help them become adults; that’s a big part of what this program and component of Hospitality Services represents,” Cushman said. “We are here to help them grow, and how we’re educating them is by helping them make the right choices, not only for now but for later in life.”
More information about Hospitality Services’ Smart Choices program can be found on the Hospitality Services website.
Feed Your Body and Soul
(Click image to enlarge.)
Texas Tech’s Feed Your Body and Soul Week is Feb. 23-27 and is designed to encourage healthy attitudes toward body image and overcoming disordered eating.
A schedule of events is as follows:
Feed Your Body Fair
11 a.m.-1 p.m. Feb. 25
Student Union Building,
- CopyMail area
5:30 p.m. Feb. 26
Student Rec Center,
- Rm. 114
Movie: Do I Look Fat?
6:30 p.m. Feb. 26
Student Rec Center,
- Rm. 208
Celebration of Recovery!
7 p.m. Feb. 27
Center for the Study of Addiction & Recovery,
- Serenity Center
The Department of Hospitality Services will challenge students to become active participants in their individual learning experience by enriching each guest's experience through excellence in services, staff development, technological advancements, cutting edge facilities, sustainability, and performance.