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Mace & Crown | October 17, 2017

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Fruit and Veggie Festival Shows Students Alternative Diets

SaiJai Miller | Contributing Writer

College students have plenty on their plates with focusing on classes, which leaves little to no time to consider how important it is to have an adequate diet.  Monarchs gathered to learn more about healthy eating habits while socializing and participating in interactive activities at the Fruit and Veggie Festival on March 16. Activities included face painting, painting flower pots, a ring toss game, bucket toss and an Instagram photo booth.

Several student organizations were a part of the event, including the Vegans and Vegetarians of Old Dominion University, Health Promotions, Monarch Dining and the Student Health Advisor Committee. All of the organizations hosted tables where members of the community could engage with games or activities, all while learning about healthy eating. Campus dietitian Tracy Conder and Chantal Matthews of Health Promotions organized the event to help celebrate National Nutrition Month and to inform students that it is possible to lead a healthy lifestyle in college.

“This is the first such event funded by PAW. If the event is well attended and students enjoy, we will try and put it in the budget to try this event again,” Conder said.

The event was not only to celebrate National Nutrition Month, but also comes after research conducted by the National College Health Assessment administered by the American College Health Association was released for the 2015-16 year. The assessment collects data annually to show how healthy or unhealthy college students are. The report helps universities examine how they can improve the overall health of students in multiple areas, including stress levels, nutrition, sleep habits and numerous other factors.

“The survey is conducted every four to five years. We can look at other data from similar schools to see how ODU students compare. Overall, college students don’t get enough fruits and veggies but with Tracy, we can combat that,” Matthews said.

One way to combat lack of vegetables and fruit in the diet is to eat fresh foods, so the festival included a farmer’s market sponsored by Monarch Dining. The market allowed students to choose several healthy food items, including sweet potatoes, broccoli, apples and cucumbers. The Vegans and Vegetarians also gave winners of the bucket toss game held, the option of choosing one snack of either carrots, grapes, potatoes or oranges. A buffet of healthy food options was open to attendees, as well as a chef’s live demonstration, which included delicious and healthy recipes such as apple pie smoothies.

Student Benjamin Lieu tried some of the activities and games. He was encouraged to attend because he knew a friend associated with the event, but also took the time to visit the tables hosted by student organizations. At the end of the festival, he said he had learned some new information about alternative diets.

“I like how the Vegans Club here does not exclude meat-eaters,” Lieu said.

The festival exposed students to healthier eating options and allowed them to reconsider their current diet. Any nutrition guidance students may need can be found on Old Dominion Student Health 101’s website and Facebook page. As students continue to learn more about healthy eating and make improvements to their diets, the next National College Health Assessment could reflect the positive changes that students have made to combat dietary deficiencies.