Nutritional information lacking in campus dining

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Students looking for nutrition information for on-campus dining choices may be out of luck.

Au Bon Pain displays calorie information for its products. Other than the Healthy Choice display in the cafeteria, Au Bon Pain is the only dining offering on campus that has nutritional information readily available for students.

“Au Bon Pain sets that up and has done the research,” Sam Holm, director of Dining Services, said. “It’s their product that we produce so we follow their procedures. It’s based on the procedures and policies of each area.”

According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration website, the FDA does not require full nutrition labeling for restaurant foods, nor does it require that nutrition information be presented in the Nutrition Facts format.

Holm said that pizza and chicken are two of the most popular meal choices among students. Chicken tenders are the top seller at both Backyard Burger and Grill Nation. A Backyard Burger three piece chicken tender meal with seasoned fries and a Dr. Pepper contains 860 calories, 44 total grams of fat, and 1,410 milligrams of sodium.

Some students believe that this nutritional information should be available at all the locations on campus.

“I wish all the restaurants in The Grill had their nutrition information posted,” KayAnn Moore, sophomore nursing major, said. “It might help me make better decisions when I’m ordering.”

Holm believes that the nutrition of the food is not as significant as the portion size that students intake.

“French fries aren’t a bad thing,” Holm said. “If you eat them every day or eat piles of them, that’s a bad thing.”

Teresa Hall, Dining Services dietitian, offers an Awesome Choice station that provides students with the proper serving size and number of calories for certain foods served in the cafeteria. Holm said that it would be difficult to list the nutrition information for all of the food served in the cafeteria because it is made from scratch. Specific brands and ingredients are not consistently used to prepare the food.

“Healthy is available,” Holm said. “It’s up to the students. That’s why we put Awesome Choice up here for lunch, but it’s one of our least used areas.”

During the past several years, changes associated with the preparation of the food served at Tech have been made. The staff no longer cooks with heavy mayonnaise or whole butter, and they use a leaner ground beef and cage-free eggs.

“It’s something we do take seriously,” Holm said. “We’ve definitely had to push this part of the world to eat better. We’re pushing, and it’s not well received.”