Aramark grants students healthier food options

A student organization hoping to bring healthier food and more dining options to USF students succeeded in working with Aramark to increase dining options available for vegans and vegetarians.

Students Protecting the Environment and Animals with Knowledge, (SPEAK) teamed with peta2, a youth-oriented animal rights group, to bring healthier food to USF students by asking students to sign petitions earlier this semester.

Megan Malek, president of SPEAK, said she showed the petitions, which included almost 3,000 signatures, to Dining Services.

They were very receptive to the ideas, she said.

“When we saw the mass of people that were interested in having better food, we started thinking about all the people that needed other options,” Malek said. “So we went to dining services and they were very cool about it.”

The dining services staff is trying to encourage students to tell them their needs because that is how they come to know what students around campus want, she said.

After SPEAK met with Aramark representatives, Dining Services began to implement the programs SPEAK wanted for USF students, Malek said.

She said Dining Services now has more accurate labels on food — healthier “grab n’ go” snacks and a brochure listing the on-campus food options for vegan and vegetarian students.

Organic energy bars, soymilk, and veggie burgers are some of the new vegan and vegetarian options available to USF students on campus.

Colleen Mulcahey, faculty advisor for SPEAK, was one of the people who helped obtain signatures. Mulcahey said students clearly wanted more on-campus options.

“People were very interested in finding out how to find healthy and better options on campus,” she said. “There were a lot of questions about special diets and how they find out about grab ‘n’ go items.”

Ryan Huling, college campaign coordinator for peta2, coordinated the effort to get volunteers. Huling said he feels that the signatures are a sign of success.

“Obviously when you have 3,000 petition signatures coming from concerned USF students — not necessarily all vegetarians either — it shows that this is something that needs to be addressed,” he said.

Jenna Burns, Marketing Manager for USF dining services, said after meeting with SPEAK members ideas were discussed to improve vegan and vegetarian options.

“We now offer either vegetarian sausage and/or bacon during breakfast at both residential dining facilities,” she said. “We also have veggie burgers and melts available at Beef ‘o’ Brady’s.”

She said that dining services realized they needed to make students more aware of the offerings available.

“(This includes) an all-vegetarian station at the Fresh Food Company called Accents,” she said.

Accents features an array of vegetarian options daily, ranging from black bean nachos, vegetarian burgers, “chicken” sandwiches, to churros and many other items.

She said lactose-free soft serve ice cream, which is both vegan and vegetarian friendly, is also available.