Students will be able to look up nutritional information for campus restaurants starting spring quarter through a menu available online and in print.
Undergraduate student leaders are creating a menu that features healthy options at campus restaurants, such as those in Ackerman Union. Registered nurses, public health staff and other professionals
will help decide which food options the menu will categorize as healthy, said Sarika Bharil, co-director of the Student Education and Research of Contemporary Health committee and a former Daily Bruin staffer. SEARCH is part of the undergraduate student government’s Student Wellness Commission.
“UCLA does a lot of work on (the Hill) making healthier options, like Bruin Plate or the Flex Bar at De Neve,” Bharil, a fourth-year psychobiology student, said. “I saw a lot of improvements there, but I didn’t see anything on campus when it came to on-campus menus and all their food.”
The group will collect student input through focus groups and digital surveys, she added.
“The students will be helping evaluating, but we will be meeting with professionals,” she said. “It’s not going to be just student-based, because we want to make sure that it’s accurate.”
SEARCH received a grant from the UCLA Health Campus Initiative last week to create the menu. Bharil said the majority of the $824 grant will fund printing costs for the menus and fliers to advertise them, which will be posted in areas with high student traffic, such as campus eateries. She said the SWC website will also link to the menu.
Bharil said SEARCH, the UCLA Healthy Campus Initiative and Student Wellness Commissioner Christina Lee came up with the idea for the healthy menu in mid-September, inspired by similar projects on other college campuses, including the University of Maryland and Virginia Tech
. The healthy menu program falls under the Healthy Campus Initiative’s goals to enhance nutrition education and increase access to healthy foods and beverages on campus, she added.
Several students said they might use the menu when deciding what to eat on campus.
Sarah Kim, a first-year biology student, said she plans to use the menu to select healthy dining options.
“(The menu’s) useful because people have a lot of freedom away from home, so they could possibly indulge in unhealthy diets,” she said. “If I were to have a healthy option, I would definitely use it.”
Nick Chung, a first-year physiological science student, said he thinks the menu will only be successful with students who are health-conscious.
“I feel like for the vast majority of students, including myself, we don’t care too much about health – we would pick up a salad or something to the side of what we eat,” he said.