Main Street features new healthy choices on menus for students
Published: Tuesday, February 19, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, February 19, 2013 04:02
Junior Taylor Evans, a dietetics major, says a number of restaurants on Main Street increasing healthier options, but there is still room for improvement.
“I would say there’s a lot of restaurants that are increasing their menu items with healthy menus in mind, but I think that because it’s a college town it’s harder to change them,” Evans says.
A study conducted by the Robert Wood Foundation earlier this month The Wall Street Journal says restaurants that increased low calorie choices on their menus increased their sales by 5.5 percent. The Hudson Institute research organization conducted the research and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation funded it.
Healthy HENS Program Coordinator and registered nurse Michelle Scott says Main Street restaurants are offering nutritious options but students need to be more educated about how to choose the healthier options. She says they should eat lean protein instead of fast food to help them think better, sleep well and have more energy.
“Eating healthy is more of a time issue for students,” Scott says. “They grab something fast between classes and want instant gratification rather than buying foods that help them stay fuller longer.”
Home Grown Café has been on Main Street for 13 years and offers a balance of healthy and unhealthy food options. Manager John Holmes has been working at the restaurant for six years and says the majority of the establishment’s customers eat there because of the vegetarian meals and healthier options.
Holmes says popular meals at Home Grown Café are salads with tofu. He also says the restaurant features healthy sandwich options, like the Powerhouse, which consists of all vegetables on multigrain bread.
The café changes its seasonal menu about every three months, he says. Holmes says he’s noticed more students, especially those in their 20s, have made eating healthy and exercising a priority.
Holmes says he thinks sales would improve if the restaurant added more healthy options. People are alway looking for healthier options, he says.
“I don’t want to call it a fad because I think it’s going to last longer than that. We try to keep organic produce in mind and get our products from local farms such as in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.”
Senior nutrition major Brittany Linn says there are numerous ways to order healthier options when eating at a restaurant.
Many establishments have a tendency to put large quantities of dressing on salads, Linn says, and ordering dressing on the side can eliminate unnecessary calories. She also says to ask for any fried entrees to be made grilled, steamed or baked instead. Linn says the most important request is to ask the server to take away cheese or croutons off a meal, because alterations like those decrease the calories of the meal.
Main Squeeze, which has been on Main Street since November 2011, is a juice bar that also serves salads and sandwiches. Owner Alexa Krzyzanowski says the bar is looking to expand the menu in hopes of increasing sales.
“We’re thinking about having more fruits and more variety with our smoothies like adding spinach,” Kryzanowksi says. “We listen to people’s requests for different types of salads and are always willing to customize orders, such as making a meal vegan.”
Mainstream Nutrition, a nutrition and weight-management company, was established on Main Street about two and a half years ago to provide healthy products, including supplements for students. Owner Steve Fangman says their shakes—which range from 180 to 250 calories—are their most popular item. Students buy shakes as quick and healthy meal substitutes, he says.
Many students visit Mainstream Nutrition instead of restaurants because the store is a healthier and cheaper alternative, Fangman says. He says this is because at his establishment, students can replace an entire meal for a cheap shake or buy the product to make at home.
Mainsteam Nutrition had an increase in business this year compared to last year, especially during winter session. Fangman says he thinks students are realizing that the shakes are not just a cold treat to enjoy during the summer and they are ordering them year-round.
Freshman Morgan Hilliard says she would be more inclined to purchase meals on Main Street rather than prepare them in her dorm if more food establishments provided healthier options.
“I know dining halls don’t always have the best food,” Hilliard says. “I go to Rodney a lot and they don’t provide a lot of fruit. They only usually have apples. So I would go somewhere that has a lot of fresh fruit and vegetables.”
University fitness coordinator Whitney Potts says restaurants on Main Street could start by adding healthy brunch options to their menus to entice students to become regular customers. She says restaurants could offer meals like egg white omelets with toppings such as spinach, onions and organic salsa and could trade home fries for whole grain toast or steel cut oats.
“They would have to market the healthier options a certain way and find a way to emphasize that you’re sacrificing your calories but there’s not a sacrifice on flavor,” Potts says.