By Sabrina Garone
On Tuesday, Sept. 27, The United States Healthful Food Council (USHFC) announced that Sacred Heart University has been audited and certified for Responsible Epicurean and Agricultural Leadership (REAL).
This makes Sacred Heart the fourth University in the country, and the first in New England, to be awarded this recognition.
“It’s inspiring to see universities such as Sacred Heart doing their part to shift the American diet towards a more healthy and sustainable model for generations to come,” said USHFC CEO, Lawrence Williams in a statement about Sacred Heart’s certification. “The food environment has a tremendous influence on dietary habits and health, which is especially critical during the formative college years when many life-long habits are created.”
The USHFC is a non-profit organization dedicated to fighting diet-caused diseases by encouraging food services to be more health conscious and consumer health friendly.
According to the USHFC’s website, the REAL certification is a “nationally-recognized mark of excellence for food and foodservice operators committed to holistic nutrition and environmental stewardship.”
In order to become REAL certified, food operators must earn points in the categories of nutrition (Responsible), preparation (Epicurean), high-quality sources (Agriculture) and variety of healthy options (Leadership).
Chartwells is Sacred Heart’s dining service and food supplier. Chartwells also supplies food to 270 college
campuses around the country.
“Through our cuisine, community, talent, global resources and flexibility, we have the power to nourish and inspire. Our new mission is to be the place where hungry minds gather,” said Chartwells President and CEO Lisa McEuen in a statemnent on chartwellsschools.com.
Another branch of Chartwells became REAL certified earlier this year, inspiring the dining staff at Sacred Heart to also apply for the audit.
“We reached out to eatreal.org and submitted our application, giving a brief explanation of our dining services and what we offer our campus,” said Senior Director of Dining Services, Mark Tammone. “We had a few phone interviews and then a local dietitian came to campus to tour and audit our dining venues, program and philosophies.”
Linda’s and 63’s, Sacred Heart’s main dining halls, were audited over the summer.
After an extensive look at food labels, invoices and dining programs, both dining halls received high marks in all REAL categories.
Some of the ways in which Sacred Heart Dining promotes a healthy lifestyle include tray-less dining, offering smaller portion sizes, having fresh and local produce available and a brand new vegan station.
Webtrition is a website where clients can view Sacred Heart Dining menus, recipes and nutrition facts to know exactly how their food is being prepared.
Students can also find this information on the Dine on Campus app.
“Our generation of students are the most aware of poor nutrition and the obesity issues in our nation,” said Tammone. “Students are away from home for the first time, and having the opportunity to make healthy eating choices now will create good eating habits for their future.”