The college culinary experience used to be known primarily for cold pizza, ramen noodles and the freshman 15 — but those days may be on their way out.
Students across the country are eating healthier than ever, thanks in large part to the efforts of Aramark, which serves food on over 500 college campuses.
The food service giant has started offering a whole host of new vegan options including breakfast and brunch items, soy-based proteins and other hearty offerings.
“While we have previously offered a number of vegan items as part of our residential menu, we now provide an all-day solution by expanding our offerings to the breakfast and brunch day-parts,” says Scott Zahren, Aramark Executive Chef and Director of Culinary Development. “Stemming from recent recipe development, items such as vegan pastries, breakfast breads and quinoa oatmeal are now available to students. During lunch and dinner, a variety of hearty entrees are offered, including a vegan sauté which features all whole grains and fresh, seasonal veggies as well as a collection of soy based proteins.”
The changes have been implemented upon request from students, and are in place at schools including the University of South Florida and University of Kentucky. As Zahren says: “Based on information gathered from Aramark’s proprietary customer feedback platform and dining surveys, the number of students interested in vegan options has continued to steadily increase over the past several years.”
The lineup of vegan menu options now offered by Aramark is impressive, and includes Tofu-Potato Hash; Vegan Home-Style Pancakes; Spiced Breakfast Quinoa, Vegan Spiced Apple Harvest Cake and Vegan Spiced Pumpkin Cake for breakfast; Harvest Sauté with Bulgur, Sesame Noodles, Southwest Sweet Potato, Butternut & Black Bean Chili, and Chickpea Panchmael as entrees; and Vegan Brownies, Vegan Snickerdoodles, Vegan Oatmeal Cookies, and Vegan Peanut Butter Cookies for dessert.
“In addition, we have over 80 vegan entrees for incorporation in our residential menus based on student feedback and request,” adds Zahren.
The company also sources food locally as much as possible, including through a partnership with FarmLogix, which helps connect campuses with fresh produce (and frozen options when items are off-season). In addition, Aramark is rolling out a partnership with the American Heart Association called Healthy for Life® 20 by 20. Recipes will be altered to reduce calories, saturated fat and sodium levels by 20 percent, and to increase fruits, vegetables and whole grains by 20 percent by 2020.
The future looks bright for plant-based eaters, on college campuses and beyond.