One of the most frequently asked questions by prospective students touring colleges is “How good is the food here?” With increasing severe food allergies, diet issues and many students wanting to make healthier choices, this question is becoming more important than it may seem. “I’ve seen 14 students already, one-on-one, who are interested in healthy eating and creating awareness for healthy eating,” said Jean Rodvold, food coach for UMD Food Services.
Rodvold provides nutrition-related expertise in dining services for students and the UMD Food Employee Wellness Program.
“Half of my job is with employee wellness and the other half is with student life,” Rodvold said. “For employee wellness, I am a one-on-one health coach and help two other people coordinate events, such as carrying out the wellness points bank, health improvement workshops, group health coaching and health fares.”
A huge part of her job is working with students and meeting with them individually to discuss any food allergies or healthy diet choices.
“My student job is working for the (Dining Center), and those duties include getting students’ allergy information, meeting with students one-on-one, and Wellness Challenge for anyone on campus,” Rodvold said.
The Wellness Challenge awards points to students for doing activities such as attending workshops or group health meetings, exercising, doing outside activities, having a nutrition session, peer health session and even participating in a night hike. If students reach a certain number of points, they can get rewards and prizes.
Rodvold also gives various health presentations for classes and groups at UMD, including the UMD seminar class and the cross-country team.
Students often do not realize just how beneficial having a nutritionist on campus is.
“We are the experts on nutrition and help the chefs create meal options that help everybody,” Rodvold said. “Having someone devoted to health wellness and nutrition is critical to students’ health. Usually, supervisors and cooks are bogged down by daily duties, so having someone you can go to who is devoted to health and nutrition is very important.”
Another thing that sets UMD Food Services apart from other campuses is that it has its own farm that produces almost every kind of fruit and vegetable students want.
“The farm is the most innovative and different thing we have on campus,” Rodvold said. “It’s run by students and for students. We are getting local, sustainable produce from a farm run by students—it’s a pretty unique and valuable thing.”
Along with the UMD farm, there are many other sustainability initiatives at UMD, including: using local and sustainable foods when possible, reducing as much waste as possible, and striving to save as much energy and water as possible.
If students have questions about nutrition in the Dining Center, or nutrition in general, they can contact Rodvold at email@example.com or stop by her office, Engineering 234, anytime Monday–Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
BY CASSIE SWANSON