Longer Hours, More Variety, and Gluten-Free Choices Enhance Fordham Food Services
Dietitian Jeanne Molloy "rates the plates" of Fordham students to help alert them to the healthy options available on campus.
by Jennifer Spencer
Food Services staff say they have a few things cooking this summer in their ongoing quest to keep Fordham's students healthy, happy, and well-fed.
Brian Poteat, general manager of Hospitality Services, said many of the changes were made in response to a student survey conducted last year.
"We are constantly working to empower the students to actually make a difference in what they're eating," Poteat said.
This fall, the Rose Hill cafeteria will introduce a Mexican-style "make your own burrito" station, as well as an enhanced New York style deli area. Poteat said adding varied choices is a continual goal of his team.
"The palate of today's students is much more sophisticated than it may have been many years ago," he said.
In addition to the new offerings, Food Services will also introduce extended hours on Friday nights and weekends on both campuses.
Gluten-free students will also notice great improvements in choice. The cafeteria has always accommodated students with food allergies, giving them food tours to introduce them to healthy options and even developing custom meal plans.
But this year, Fordham will convert an existing vegan station at Rose Hill to a fully gluten-free station. Poteat said he hopes this option will allow students to quickly grab healthy meals even if they haven't asked the cafeteria team for help navigating their allergy.
Kitchen staff have also undergone extensive training to ensure there's no cross contamination of allergens.
When it comes to health and nutrition, all students have the benefit of Food Service's own registered dietitian, Jeanne Molloy. In addition to working with the campus chefs to develop menus, Molloy provides one-on-one nutritional counseling to students free of charge.
"This is a service that would cost someone $125 an hour, at least, outside of the university, and it's completely free," she said.
When Molloy joined Fordham earlier this year, she developed a "stealth health map" to help students find the most nutrient dense foods. She is particularly committed to encouraging students to load their plates with calcium, as they can only build bones until age 30, and fiber, to help regulate blood sugar.
"The nutrition really is there," Molloy said. "My job is to help you find it."
An interest in healthy eating motivated Gabelli School of Business student Matt Grandchamp to get involved in the Student Culinary Council, a student group that surveys and shares student perspectives with Food Services.
Grandchamp, who will serve as the SCC's vice-president next year, said he has worked to post calorie counts and helped host nutritional dinners to help students discover the breadth options available to them. "
Fordham's Stealth Health Map helps students get the most nutritional bang for their dining bucks.
A lot of people have issues with the food, and a lot of time the reason is that they don't know what they can get," Grandchamp said. "When I first came to Fordham, I didn't want to get out of my comfort zone, and that limits you a lot."
Grandchamp said that as he has learned more about what's available, his perspective has changed.
"It's not what your mother cooks for you, but they have lots of options," Grandchamp said. "I've been to other schools to visit friends, and we do have a great cafeteria compared to what other schools have."
While Lincoln Center's cafeteria will not see major upgrades over the summer, Poteat said renovations are planned for December. Recent retail upgrades, such as the addition of a Red Mango yogurt shop, have been popular on campus.
Since Lincoln Center residential students have kitchens in their student housing, Poteat said Food Services has found a unique way to serve their needs—allowing students to purchase groceries from the cafeteria by using their declining balance cards.
Poteat said he is always working to improve student options as much as possible given the constraints imposed by cooking more than 4,000 meals a day. "
Some things will move like a glacier, every year in the right direction, but some things we can change right away," he said. "We work really hard at trying to understand this generation and their expectations."
Whether it's helping students purchase groceries or pack their plates with calcium and fiber, dietitian Molloy said she loves the educational aspect of her job. Students have valuable lessons to learn in the kitchen as well as in the classroom, she said. "
We're really just trying to give the students an exceptional student experience," she said. "To be on a college campus, where the energy is so high, and I can impart an education that students can take with them for the rest of their lives, that's hugely satisfying."