Hey UConn, here’s another response to a proposal from IdeaScale. I am personally responding to the most popular ideas on our new site, to tell students what actions USG is taking to work towards improving UConn. While I am typically just going to reply to the most popular ideas, I will post a response to less popular ideas from time to time, in order to provide information to interested students.
Dennis Pierce, the Director of Dining Services, contacted me about the idea, “Provide healthy food choices on campus” and requested that I post a response from him. His response to the idea:
The Department of Dining salutes USG for hosting the IdeaScale. It truly creates a venue that allows to de-myth many of the perceptions that occur around campus. We took the comment above and addressed the miss-stated information. Please note that we are always open to comments and suggestions. If there are questions regarding our menus, ingredients etc feel free to call us at 486-3128, email us via our web site or set up an appointment to discuss.
Dining is a rather large organization preparing in excess of 180 thousand meals per week in our residential dining program. We have to meet the needs of a very diverse group of individuals. We offer healthy options, Vegetarian options, Vegan, Kosher, Gluten Free, and Dairy Free. While we strive to provide many options there students that want to have many choices and sometimes that may not meet the definition of healthy. What we do strive for is using the best “clean” ingredients that originate from quality sources. We would like to thank all that have added comments. This allows us the opportunity to better market the correct information as it relates to the products we serve. We hope that once reading the following, individuals will seek out accurate information, so that miss information is not perpetuated creating a plethora of urban myths.
Director of Dining Services
· Hydrolyzed beef stock in soup labeled as “vegan”……This is not true. Here at UConn anything labeled vegan does not contain any animal by products. We take a conservative approach to insure that all our ingredients used in recipes are in fact vegan.
· Potato chips and snacks loaded with plant dextrin’s and cane sugar…..We use Deep River Chips that is a local company out of CT. Here is a quote directly from their web site. “We only use non-GMO potatoes and all of our products are kosher certified, gluten free and contain no trans fat. We’re also 100% committed to sustainability”.
· Food loaded with salt, not sure if they use msg or gmo-ingredients in the cooked food at the union………At the Student Union there are no items that contain MSG. We have recently begun to source lower sodium chicken and beef bases as well as all our beans for lower sodium content and continue to look for ways to reduce sodium.
· For such a research oriented campus, it surprises me that it serves its students such low quality of food……All our food is restaurant quality and is purchased through an approved vendor. Sysco does not specify of our purchasing requirements. Dining, through the use of a trained culinary team, and with review by a Dietician create menus and specifications for all of our menus. We establish high quality specifications that our food distributor must meet before we purchase any item. We also use common brands that are also sold in retail such as Purdue, Tyson etc.
· Food served is heated with high temperatures and has many additives, food colorings and preservatives as well as unnecessary chemical compounds, not to mention non-organic, non-fair trade, non-kosher vegetables and animal products…………Here at UConn we cook all our food to the required state of CT guidelines and do not add any additives, food colorings, preservatives and unnecessary chemical compounds. Where possible we use local, organic fair trade products. We also are one of the largest consumers / purchasers of local CT grown produce. Often vegetables served at the SU Market come from our UConn Student Garden, Spring Valley Farm.
· The choices for healthy eating on campus are severely limited and this needs to change……….We offer healthy options on campus at all our dining facilities on campus. In each of our facilities we offer Healthy Husky and Healthy plate alternatives. If at any time you feel that your options are not varied enough then share your ideas with our management staff. Without verbal, timely input we do not know if we are meeting your needs.
· The Coca-Cola company in case you didn’t know provides all of the student union food and not sure what else, maybe dining hall food…………..Not quite true. Coca Cola only supplies some of our beverages. Our beverage selection includes all natural juices, milk and water. Individuals have a choice when selecting a beverage.
· How can anyone truly enjoy pasta shells with chemically-flavored and composed fettuccine Alfredo sauce (student union)……….Not accurate. Our Alfredo sauce we serve at the USM top ingredients are skim milk, cream, cream cheese and Romano cheese. It is made here in the USA in Wisconsin.
· UConn’s Dining service is a contract account………Not accurate. UConn is a self operated food service provider owned and operated by the University of Connecticut we are not a contract foodservice.