While many college dining programs have added healthier menu options to their offerings, the University of North Texas in Denton has kicked it up a notch. The school recently opened Mean Greens, an allhealthy, all-the-time dining hall that serves portion-controlled entrees and all-you-can-eat everything else.
When students enter Mean Greens, they are given a portion control card that explains the entree choices for that day. They can then choose one (no seconds) and augment it with as much of the greens and healthy sides as they wish.
"We encourage them to eat the entree and then fill out the meal with the vegetables and whole grains," says Dining Services Director Regenia Phillips. "The idea is to educate students about proper portioning and healthy menu choices as much as it is to serve healthy meals." The entrees are all 300 calories with under 10 grams of fat while desserts are up to 150 calories.
The mandatory portion controlling of entrees has received "mixed reviews," Phillips admits, but "students always have the option of eating at the other dining halls where everything is all-you-care-to-eat."
The new dining hall serves portioned servings of some of the same entrees served at the other five residential dining halls, but it emphasizes grilled meats, sushi, organically grown produce and marinated tofu. There is also a lot more fish on its menu than at the other dining halls and it uses whole grains exclusively.
A typical lunch includes a choice of grilled tilapia, Canadian bacon pizza, grilled chicken breasts, black bean burger on wheat bun, homemade chicken noodle soup and "Barb's Soup" (vegan). The side dishes included wild rice, asparagus, carrot souffle, oven-browned potatoes and blackeyed peas. Dinner featured some of the same choices in addition to beef lasagna, grilled Italian chicken breast with sides like Parmesan potatoes, ratatouille, a vegan couscous pilaf and baked sweet potatoes
Mean Greens is located in a renovated cafeteria space and is one of six overseen by Phillips (retail operations are outsourced). Grumbling about portions aside, it has been a hit on the campus so far, with a 40-percent participation rise compared to traffi c at the location's previous cafeteria. Counts are running around 1,500 a day.