Students at Western University and Brescia University College are learning new ways to measure how healthy their meals are.
The two schools have partnered together to research the nutritional benefit of various foods.
“FRESH stands for the Food Resource and Education for Student Health,” Anne Zonk, Nutrition Manager for the Hospitality Services at Western University said. “FRESH is a research-based, pure nutrition education program that is geared to increase awareness, build skills, reward healthy eating and influence the food service environment.”
Zonk says that one initiative FRESH adopted was “FRESH-approved”.
“It is an algorithm that helps us to flag the healthier options,” Zonk said. “Your definition of ‘healthy’ might be different from my definition.”
The algorithm was developed with the Ontario Public Health Association.
“It looks at certain nutrients in food and it does some number-crunching and it assigns points to a healthy value, but deducts points for unhealthy things in food,” Zonk said.
The algorithm has been incorporated in the six-week menu rotation for residences on campus. During each rotation, a percentage of what was healthier than other options is determined.
“50 per cent of our menu is FRESH-approved,” Zonk said. “60 per cent [of to-go options] are FRESH-approved.”
Zonk says that the pricing of the FRESH-approved products was on par with unapproved food or it was cheaper.
Student feedback is being collected while new menu ideas are in discussion.