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Talk Healthy to Me

Posted by on Sunday, February 1, 2015 in Living Learning Community.

“Is butter a carb?” asks Regina George in “Mean Girls.” The VanderBEANS set out to answer this question, and more.

"We're not like a normal Mayfield. We're a cool Mayfield."

Last Tuesday, I joined the lovely people of Mayfield 19, a.k.a. VanderBEANS, for a panel-led discussion of nutrition for college students. The event, Talk Healthy to Me, featured guests Sarah Eanes, a Vanderbilt dietetic intern, and Marilyn Holmes, an R.D. and associate director of the Vanderbilt Recreation and Wellness Center. The goal was to discuss some of the nutritional challenges facing college students, and improve their working knowledge of some solutions.

The Mayfield students partnered with VIVA, the Vanderbilt Initiative for Vegetarian Awareness, to present this panel and serve food from Sunflower Café, including vegan burger sliders, Thai peanut noodles, hummus and veggies, and chocolate mousse for dessert. About twenty people came, most of whom were already interested in nutrition and vegetarianism [link: #VandyVegetarian, an A-to-Z list of vegetarian food on and around campus].

The VanderBEANS Mayfield has a dual focus on food sustainability and nutrition––last time I wrote about their work with urban gardening, and this event deals with the second focus, nutrition. College students run into problems with late-night snacking, stress-eating [link: Weight Watchers’ controversial video], and food availability. VanderBEANS conducted a survey last semester, finding that many students (42) want more weekend options, 39 want more vegetables, 37 want more vegan and/or vegetarian options, and 30 want more organic options. Additionally, a dozen students are primarily concerned with meal-plan food available near Highland, which right now has only Quiznos and a Munchie Mart [link: what is a Munchie Mart? see other Inside ‘Dores blog posts].

One of my problems is weekend availability, because although the food in the Taste of Nashville program (restaurants off campus like Bruegger’s and Mellow Mushroom) tastes good, it’s not as healthy as the ‘home-cooked’ food served at Kissam Kitchen, which is closed Friday and Saturday night. The upshot is that Campus Dining is very responsive to students’ requests. Whenever I send them a comment card, someone responds personally. Recently, students pushed for a hot-lunch option in Kissam Kitchen, and now there’s soup available from breakfast until dinnertime.

Mayfield 19 is a great example of one of Vanderbilt’s Living Learning Communities, which give students with similar educational interests the chance to live together in residence halls offering structured learning environments. In addition to the Mayfield Lodges, which are a group of 20 houses holding 10 students each, there is The McGill Project and McTyeire International House for foreign-language immersion. These are residential communities that you can apply for starting sophomore year. The College Halls at Kissam [link: article to semester-in-review of Warren & Moore by the Hustler] is another LLC, but right now it’s less specific in terms of identity or purpose.

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