What’s Cooking at Trinity? The Food Revolution

Posted: December 20, 2016

New Salad Bar food items in Strachan Hall

Made-from-scratch cooking with no additives. Locally sourced foods and produce. Wholesome ingredients and vegan and gluten-free options. Healthy beverages.

Since 2015, Trinity College has been transforming the food offerings to its students in its main student dining hall – Strachan Hall. While the changes are extensive, the key principals of change are to support student health while catering to values of more environmentally sustainable and ethically procured food.

“At Trinity, we value supporting the whole person by providing authentic, healthy and ethically procured food to nourish the body, mind and conscience,” Trinity College Provost Mayo Moran said. “Excellent food is a critical element in cultivating and supporting student health and wellness, and ultimately overall student success, and this is reflected in our values of the College’s Health & Wellness initiative.”

Trinity College Board of Trustee member Joannah Lawson, a registered nutritionist, has been playing a central leadership role in helping the College transform its food services and menus. “We are providing delicious, nutritious and healthy food options – foods that are lower in sugar, sodium, unhealthy fats and preservatives, while high in nutrients and fibre, including whole grains, which are important for good health, energy and prevention of chronic disease,” she said.

What students will find at Strachan Hall is vastly different than the usual fare found in most university dining halls.

At Trinity, food is cooked from scratch using whole foods. In fact, on average, an additional 245 cases of fresh produce per month are being consumed by Trinity students since this work started – that is a huge increase in fresh fruits and vegetables consumption!

Variety of tomatos at the tomato tasting event in Strachan HallAll the sauces, soups and salad dressings are made-from-scratch with no food additives, providing a more delicious and nutrition food experience for students. Recently made-from-scratch breakfast loaves and muffins – with wholesome ingredients including vegan and gluten-free options – have been added to the menu.

Students can also select from a wide variety of meals and snacks, including freshly made omelets, healthy sandwich bar (deli meat has been replaced with in-house roasted and hormone-free meats), smoothie bar, more healthy proteins such as fish, fresh and varied salad bar with homemade dressings, cheeses, creative vegetarian and gluten-free options, and freshly made soups that are low in sodium. Along with improving the quality and variety of fruits and vegetables, the College uses always fresh, never frozen ingredients, and prepares all produce in-house. And fresh whole or cut fruits are always available at all meals.

Trinity’s Associate Director, Community Wellness has put a creative spin on the ever-expanding salad bar offerings in Strachan Hall. She created “Ramata’s Salad of the Day” recipes so students can learn new food preparation ideas while also being inspired to try a wider variety of nutritious foods.

Many jurisdictions around the world are introducing “soda taxes,” which increases the price of sugar-sweetened beverages as a method to tackle the rising rate of diabetes and other diet-related diseases. To reduce sugar consumption in beverages, Trinity has taken a positive approach by making the best beverage – water – a whole lot more exciting. Since the installation of the infused water stations (flavoured naturally with citrus, melon, cucumber, mint, berries and rosemary) the rate of water consumption has sky rocketed with a parallel plummet in the consumption of sugary sodas by 50%.

Two students enjoying fresh corn on the cobWorking with the College’s administration and Food Services team, the Student Food Advisory Committee (SFAC) provides ongoing student (residence and commuter) feedback about food quality, sourcing and variety. Through the SFAC and feedback from the College’s annual food survey, students have made it clear that the environment matters and they prefer to have food that has a lower carbon footprint in how it is produced and how far it travels to land on their plates. In addition, in May 2016, Trinity received a Fair Trade Campus designation, which recognizes universities and colleges that have shown a strong commitment to Fair Trade principles and to offering Fair Trade products.

“In a world where the negative human impacts on our climate and environment are real, being part of the solution towards sustainable local and regional food sourcing that reduce costs, carbon and energy foot prints is a no-brainer,” Trinity student Mbonella said.

Trinity has increased its locally sourced foods to 25% and that number will keep growing. A seasonal menu has been developed to feature local foods in season and to celebrate them with the students in creative and delicious ways. For example, the September tomato tasting event was very popular, only to be outdone by the October corn roast.

Along with nourishing the body, Strachan Hall also plays an important role is bringing the community together to enhance the student experience for resident and commuter students. “I find the community hub of Trinity is Strachan…the kitchen is the heart of the home, then Strachan is the heart of Trin, for res and non-res students alike,” said Trinity College commuter student AnneMichaela. “The inclusivity of non-residence students in the dining spaces leads them to feel more comfortable with all aspects of the college…and to be invested in the college as a whole.”

Highlights from the College’s most recent student food survey and other updates will be shared in the new year. For more delicious photos, follow Trinity College Food Services on Instagram @TrinEats!

Upcoming Local Food Events at Trinity

Local Cheese Tasting: Thursday, January 26 from 11:30 am to 12:30 pm in Strachan Hall. Students will have the opportunity to do a blind cheese tasting of some locally sources cheeses.

Beet Brownie Valentines: Tuesday, February 14 from 11:30 am to 1:30 pm in Strachan Hall. Drop by to get your prepackaged beet brownies with valentines – give to a partner/friend or enjoy the treat yourself!

Both events are free and open to all Trinity students.