Liberty is ranked as the third healthiest college
According to The Daily Beast and College Prowler, Liberty ranks third among the healthiest colleges across the nation. Reasons for the rating include the low use of alcohol and drugs, and healthy dining options, courtesy of Sodexo food services.
Robin Quay, Liberty’s registered dietician, and other Sodexo staff are the masterminds behind the new healthy dining options available all over campus.
“Simple Servings, the allergen-free platform, is an offering that eliminates gluten as well as seven of the eight most common (Food and Drug Administration) specified allergens, which are wheat, soy, milk, peanuts, tree nuts, shellfish and eggs,” Quay said.
According to Quay, the main purpose of Simple Servings is to provide a way for students to not feel singled out when they have to comply with food allergy or other dietary concerns.
“These students don’t have to ask for special foods to be prepared, cook for themselves or go elsewhere to eat,” Quay said. “They can enjoy a tasty meal with their friends and take part in the social aspect of dining on a college campus.”
Quay said the food at Simple Servings is “simply prepared, minimally processed and made from scratch using transparent ingredients.”
According to the Mother Nature Network website, ingredient transparency is when a company names all of the ingredients that are in their products on the nutrition label without grouping additives together creating vagueness.
According to Quay, not only is the healthy line popular among students with specific allergies, but it also appeals to students who want healthy, plain-and-simple foods or to those who may have other health related dietary concerns, like Type I Diabetes.
During lunch and dinner, the Simple Servings station offers an entrée, a hot vegetable and a starchy side — either a gluten free grain or a starchy vegetable — as well as two salads and a variety of greens that are served with a homemade salad dressing.
“There were many inspirations for creating the Simple Servings line,” Quay said. “It was mainly to meet the needs of students with allergies. We wanted to be sure they could get a safe, healthy and delicious meal and not have to worry about having an allergic reaction.”
According to Quay, Sodexo wants students to be able to focus on their academics and college life and not have to worry about their meals and special dietary needs,
“We also wanted to offer healthy, delicious, simple foods for students who were looking for a more nutrient-dense type of diet,” Quay said.
The Reber-Thomas Dining Hall is not the only place on campus to offer healthy options. Doc’s Diner offers a homemade veggie burger, veggie pizzas with a whole grain crust and a variety of salads, while the Tilley Fresh Market Buffet offers a salad bar and a wide variety of cooked veggies every day.
With the addition of the Jamba Juice and convenience store at the new David’s Place on East Campus, students have the opportunity to purchase fresh fruit and veggie smoothies and meals-to-go that follow vegan, paleo and gluten-free diets.
According to Quay, students have responded positively to the newest changes to dining services across campus.
“We conducted a satisfaction survey that indicated that most people agreed or strongly agreed that Simple Servings made them feel safe, knowing that they wouldn’t be exposed to allergens that could make them sick,” Quay said. “We also have a lot of anecdotal evidence of students just telling us or emailing us about how much they like it.”
Sodexo plans to continue to increase the number of healthy choices offered throughout the dining hall and at other residential and retail dining facilities on campus, Quay said.
“We will also continue to offer nutrition education opportunities for students through individual sessions, workshops, events and classes,” Quay said.