National Nutrition Month is a nutrition education and information campaign aimed at promoting healthy eating and physical activity habits. It is organized annually in March by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Since 2014, Cornell has been taking part in this initiative by organizing our own “Five days of 5” program.
In 2014, Cornell organized a “Five Days of 5 Different Types of Allergen Diets” program where different groups of dining staff members would adopt one of the 6 special diets – vegetarian, vegan, kosher, dairy-free, gluten-free and both dairy- and gluten-free – for 5 days. In doing so, chefs and dining staff members would better understand the unique preferences and challenges faced by those who follow a restricted diet. This enables Cornell Dining to better provide for the needs of these students.
Last year, Cornell’s “Five Days of 5” program encouraged all students and staffs to eat 5 cups of fruits and vegetables each day for 5 days. According to Michele Lefebvre, Cornell’s on-staff Registered Dietitian and Director of Nutrition Management, it takes about 2 weeks to form a habit. Hence, by encouraging one to commit to a nutritious diet for 5 days, it aids in building awareness and making a habit change. The program received an astounding 2800 pledges and 92% of the respondents felt that they ate more fruits and vegetables due to this program. A result of this program was also the launch of the fruit and vegetable punch cards where students and staffs can receive a free produce for every 9 purchased.
As a result of the program’s high success rate, Cornell Dining has decided to continue with this “Five Days of 5 cups of fruits and vegetables” program this year. Both dining halls and campus eateries will be offering nutritious and appealing fruit and vegetable-centered dishes to encourage the community to focus more on produce and less on animal protein. Think not just about boiled or steamed vegetables, but produce that will be cooked with robust spices, cooked in various different ways, and incorporated into regular food products.
Cornell Dining student managers will be tabling at various eateries during dining hours from February 28 till March 5 (the week leading up to the program) to raise awareness about the program. Staffs and students can participate by filling out a colorful pledge card. Pledge cards will not only generate excitement about the program, but it will also encourage commitment to focus more on fruits and vegetables. What’s more exciting is that you’ll also receive newsletters containing fun plant-based recipes and healthy eating tips! If you can’t get to a dining hall or campus eatery, not to worry because you can also pledge to participate by signing up here! The goal this year, is to receive 4000 pledges.
Among the Cornell Dining student managers, there will be a competition to see who can get the most pledges (so please support them!!). Among the community, there will be various social media photo contests to encourage all to share their journey on becoming healthier by eating more colorful and wholesome produce. Among the chefs, there will be a Fruit & Vegetable Recipe contest just like last year. 8 recipes will be shortlisted, and the final will be held on March 21st at Willard Straight Hall where finalists will present bite-size pieces of their creative healthy dishes, and staffs and students can vote for their favorite. Last year, a unique and nourishing Vegan Vegetable Brownie clinched first price, followed by a hearty and healthy Tabasco Vegetable Burger. With such promising potential to create food products that are not only innovative, but ones that are packed full of flavor and nutrients, and even accommodate to certain restricted diets as well, I certainly can’t wait what chefs have in store this year! The winning recipe will also be featured in various campus eateries later this spring.
To kick start the official “Five days of 5 cups of fruits and vegetables” (March 7 till March 11), there will be a food sampling event in Trillium on March 1st. Think about cold pressed juice samples from Red Jacket Orchards and various information about the different color groups of produce. To find out more about the program, follow Cornell Dining on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, or join the Facebook group #HaveYouHadYourFive?