By: Kristin Helf, Staff Writer
To celebrate March’s National Nutrition Month, and particularly to promote healthy eating to students, Towson’s Nutrition Club held their first-ever Nutrition Fair in the University Union March 23.
The Nutrition Club, along with Health Peer Educators and Body Image Peer Educators, set up tables with food sampling and games to advocate food safety and provide students with information about what goes into their bodies, depending on what they eat.
Healthy snack foods from Towson’s new enr.G vending machines were provided, along with homemade energy bites and handmade banana ice cream, where frozen banana is the only ingredient necessary in making the deliciously healthy dessert.
For college freshmen, or even long-time college students who have gotten into less-than-healthy eating habits, it can be difficult to branch out from Chick-fil-A nuggets and find nutritious meal options on campus.
Nutrition Club president Jackie Kernan admits that she didn’t have the best diet when she first started living on campus.
“Even though I was interested in it, I was kind of timid with the dining halls and I didn’t want to try new stuff,” Kernan said. “But I think there’s definitely a lot more healthy food on campus than most people actually think.”
Kernan said that, sometimes, walking around a bit is necessary to find healthy foods, but that “I’ve found so many things that I actually like that I didn’t think I would.”
A key aspect of the fair was to show students that there are resources available to help guide them through campus dining.
“All of our [dining hall] menus are online, with the nutrition facts,” campus dietician Kerry Ballek said. “So there’s that, there’s always me, [students] can always reach out if they have questions about anything.”
Some of the new things that students can try include the KIND bars, Lightly Salted Edamame and Mrs. May’s Naturals Classic Crunches, all of which are available in the enr.G vending machines.
“People are like, ‘I’ve never seen this before,’” Kernan said. “So it’s good that we’re promoting healthy food and the healthy vending machines at Towson.”
Health center intern Jamie Conway invited students to play a matching game at her table where participants would match different foods with the length of time they can be stored in the refrigerator.
“A lot of people are putting up to two months for chicken, when raw chicken can only really stay in the fridge for two days.” Conway said. “[We’re] letting people know how long things really last.”
Later that afternoon, members of the Nutrition Club went to West Village to present an unusual fruit-and-vegetable tasting.
“It’s new stuff people can try,” Kernan said. “They may not like it, but they can at least see what healthy food is out there.”
The Nutrition Club will also host a Guest Chef event at Newell Dining Hall March 30.
Kernan hopes that, after attending the fair, students will be more proactive about their food safety and consumption.
“There are so many options people don’t think about…So many simple things you can do, like banana ice cream,” Kernan said. “Yeah, you have to freeze the bananas ahead of time and put some work into it, but there are so many options that are much better than, you know, Ben & Jerry’s or whatever you’re usually eating that’s not good for you.”