Fried food gone, pou­tine still in at Va­nier

Les Nouvelles Saint-Laurent - - ACTUALITÉS - ste­pha­­ca­

When Saint-Laurent News vi­si­ted Va­nier’s cam­pus last week to wit­ness the changes firs­thand, the re­por­ter was gree­ted by the sight and smell of chee­se­bur­gers, pou­tine and piz­za. For a cris­py chi­cken wrap com­bo – ser­ved with a gar­den sa­lad and a foun­tain drink – stu­dents will pay 6,91$. The ca­fe­te­ria does of­fer stu­dents ac­cess to a sa­lad bar. For 1,22$/100gr, pa­trons can buy let­tuce, to­ma­toes, hard boi­led eggs and other veg­gies.

Stu­dents can al­so pur­chase a small bag of veg­gies and dip, but for close to the same price as a ham­bur­ger com­bo.

Small por­tio­ned sa­lads – of­ten pas­ta with mayon­naise or oil ba­sed dres­sing - are sold 3,25$. Ve­ge­ta­rian chili was ser­ved at Jack’s, a student ca­fé.

Last fall, Va­nier Col­lege an­noun­ced that it was set­ting up mea­sures to en­cou­rage heal­thy ea­ting ha­bits. Fried foods and soft drinks were ban­ned from the me­nu. But three months la­ter, piz­za, pou­tine and chee­se­bur­gers can still be found on stu­dents’ plates.

The col­lege swit­ched food sup­pliers and si­gned a five year contract with Chart­wellsCom­pass ca­te­rer.

“Va­nier is proud to be one of the few col­leges in Que­bec to ban the sale of both fried foods and soft drinks. Col­leges are ideal lo­ca­tions to pro­mote young adult health and with these new orien­ta­tions we are com­mit­ted to pro­vi­ding heal­thier meals to our com­mu­ni­ty,” sta­ted in Sep­tem­ber Nor­mand W. Ber­nier, Di­rec­tor Ge­ne­ral of Va­nier Col­lege in a press re­lease.

Does the me­nu live up to ex­pec­ta­tions? Not ne­ces­sa­ri­ly says die­ti­cian and nu­tri­tio­nist Stéphanie Saint- Jacques. Teenagers have spe­cial nu­tri­tio­nal needs ac­cor­ding to her. Still gro­wing, tee­nage boys are ex­pec­ted to in­gest from 2,500 to 3,000 ca­lo­ries against 2,200 for tee­nage girls.

“Teenagers need nu­trients. They are not li­mi­ted ca­lo­rie wise, but there’s a dif­fe­rence. Emp­ty ca­lo­ries, of­ten co­ming from fat­ty foods, should be avoi­ded”, she said.

She ap­plau­ded the frying ban – pou­tine and French fries are ba­ked as are the cris­py chi­cken wraps – but won­ders if there are not heal­thier choices to be ad­ded or sub­sti­tu­ted on the me­nu. She ex­plai­ned that even if fries are ba­ked, pou­tine is still ve­ry dense in ca­lo­ries, once the brown sauce and cheese are ad­ded.

“Mind you, it is not a ques­tion of ban­ning pou­tine, ham­bur­gers or piz­za. I don’t agree with food bans. But is it ne­ces­sa­ry to have those items on the eve­ry­day me­nu, where teenagers can eat pou­tine on a dai­ly ba­sis?”

Heal­thier choices

Dar­ren Be­cker, com­mu­ni­ca­tion’s di­rec­tor at Va­nier Col­lege, is proud of the first steps to­wards a heal­thier me­nu made for stu­dents. He points to the ad­di­tion of the sa­lad bar and ve­ge­ta­rian meals. “Rome wasn’t built in a day. We live in a free coun­try. [Ham­bur­gers] is not ne­ces­sa­ri­ly junk food. There’s no­thing fried, and that’s bet­ter for health.” Chips and cho­co­late bars are still being sold in ven­ding ma­chines, but Be­cker said that the choices are co­lor co­ded: green, yel­low and red. Chips are in the red zone, veg­gie chips are yel­low and ba­ked chips are green. “I’m not sure about this gra­da­tion. Just the fact that things are in the «red zone» may en­tice so­meone to have it”, said Saint-Jacques.

No nu­tri­tio­nal in­for­ma­tion

When as­ked about the nu­tri­tio­nal content of its me­nu, Chart­wells-Com­pass ex­plai­ned that it sim­ply could not crunch the num­bers.

“Ma­ny of our food sta­tions, such as our stir-fry sta­tion, are self-serve, mea­ning stu­dents can prepare their own plates. As such, due to the com­plexi­ties and va­ria­tions of each meal, it would be im­pos­sible to pro­vide ac­cu­rate nu­tri­tio­nal in­for­ma­tion”, sta­ted a re­pre­sen­ta­tive.

A cou­lour code helps stu­dents dis­tin­guish heal­thy from un­heal­thy snacks in the ven­ding ma­chine.

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