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Healthier food options available at campus eateries

By Antoinette Mercurio

Eat Smart certification on campus

Toronto Public Health recently awarded Pitman Residence Dining Hall, The Hub Food Court and Maggie's at International Living and Learning Centre (ILLC) Eat Smart certificates. Ryerson was given the certificates after implementing healthier food options in their menus. From left, standing: Emily Belita, Toronto Public Health nurse; Yong Seto, ILLC Manager; Rajah Devarajah, Pitman Hall; Joelle Carmichael, Health Promotion nurse; Dr. Su Ting Seo, Health Centre; Doug White, The Hub Market; Patti Franklin, ILLC Assistant Manager; John Corallo, Director, Ancillary Services; Eddie Tung, ILLC Chef; and Jasmine Ho, Toronto Public Health dietician. From left, kneeling, School of Nutrition students: Jennifer Rizzuti, Justine Prosper, Lauren Fleming and Jessny Maureaye.

A cheeseburger and fries don't have to be the standard cafeteria choice for lunch anymore.

Students, faculty and staff can choose healthier, more wholesome foods -- such as grilled chicken with rice and a salad -- when they dine on campus. Those kinds of options helped Ryerson earn certification through Eat Smart, a Toronto Public Health program that recognizes restaurants, school and workplace cafeterias for achieving excellence in providing healthy food choices and a healthy environment for consumers. To qualify, facilities must offer a variety of healthy food options, be smoke-free and practice safe food handling.

Pitman Residence Dining Hall, The Hub Food Court and Maggie's at the International Living and Learning Centre (ILLC) earned the certification, which recognizes that the cafeterias offer more low-fat options (such as low-fat salad dressings), as well as more whole wheat choices and a larger variety of fruits and vegetables. More importantly, the healthier options available in the cafeteria will be easy to find with notices pointing out the healthy choices.

Toronto Public Health was on campus to officially present the Eat Smart certificates.

"There's been a lot of motivation and excitement on the students' part, which has made it really easy to implement the program here," said Jasmine Ho, Toronto Public Health dietician. "This has been a really good partnership in creating a healthier environment at Ryerson."

The Eat Smart program at the University was initiated by the Ryerson Student Nutrition Action Committee (RSNAC) and Health Promotion's Active Nutrition team, in conjunction with Food and Ancillary Services. Made up of School of Nutrition students, RSNAC is a peer education group that provides nutrition education to students, faculty and staff. The group received training from Toronto Public Health in the fall on how to promote the program and nutrition on campus. In December, Toronto Public Health, peers in Ryerson's Health Promotion unit and Food & Ancillary Services came together to put the program in place.

"I'm really happy Eat Smart is part of the cafeteria," said Justine Prosper, fourth-year School of Nutrition student and RSNAC rep. "Being apart of RSNAC enables us to get familiar with the student population and teach them how to interpret nutritional information. People are more conscious about what they eat and want to find out more about nutritious foods."

During Nutrition Month in March, Health Promotion and RSNAC were busy promoting healthy living and eating with stations across campus to conduct surveys, meet the community and hand out healthy snacks and nutritional information. Each week they chose one food group to feature.

"It's important to raise awareness about healthy eating and educate the public about nutrition because you want to have a happy and healthy community. Eating well gives students resources to live a better lifestyle and can improve their academic life," said Joelle Carmichael, Health Promotion Nurse.

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