NMU pledges to increase plant-based dining options

Northern Michigan University has signed the Forward Food Pledge and is committed to upping its plant-based offerings annually through 2024. Shown are dishes from a 2019 Forward Food training event at NMU. (Photo courtesy of NMU)

By Journal Staff

MARQUETTE — In collaboration with Northern Michigan University’s Animal Club and the Humane Society of the United States, Northern Michigan University signed the Forward Food Pledge and has committed to increasing its plant-based offerings each year through 2024. NMU has made this commitment to ensure that all students have access to healthy, sustainable and inclusive foods.

Institutions that sign the Forward Food Pledge commit to adding more plant-based options each year. By the end of 2024, NMU’s plant-based menu entrées will represent 30% of the items offered to dining customers. NMU will also provide data to the Humane Society of the United States, a collaborator with Forward Food, to track its progress reaching annual milestones.

“One way of eating a healthier diet is by increasing your consumption of plant-based proteins, which can provide you with heart healthy soluble and insoluble fiber, low saturated fat, no cholesterol and lower sodium options,” said Brett Peterson, registered dietician at NMU, in a news release. “If you look at your grandparents and/or parents, many of them don’t eat like they did as young adults and either had to change or simply changed as they became more educated on healthier eating habits.

“By starting this now, we will be far ahead of the game in preventing many chronic diseases associated with poor dietary habits.”

Northern Michigan University Dining has been making menu changes and hosted an event, the Peas on Earth Challenge, promoting and educating their campus about plant-based offerings.

Olivia Lubig, president of the NMU Animal Club, said in a news release, “Bringing the Humane Society of the United States on board to help us, along with our other NMU efforts, illustrates how much our school truly cares about sustainability. We are headed in the right direction by making delicious plant-based options more accessible to students.”

Nathan Alexander, food service innovation coordinator with HSUS, said in a news release, “Northern Michigan University is well aware that plant-based dining is here to stay, and in signing the Forward Food Pledge, NMU leadership is taking important steps for the health of students and to combat climate change.”

As a result of signing the Forward Food Pledge, NMU now has access to HSUS’ entire toolkit of free resources, including ongoing consultation and support; menu evaluation; chef-led, customized in-person and virtual trainings; and assistance with environmental impact assessments.

“NMU Dining is proud to continue our already successful relationship with Forward Food,” said Paul Schoonveld, NMU director of dining, in a news release. “The resources and trainings provided by Forward Food have been second to none and our students are already experiencing the additional plant-based options that have been inspired by the collaboration.

“We are always focused on serving the students of NMU to the best of our ability and one of the ways we do this is by taking full advantage of local and national opportunities — like working with the Humane Society of the United States — that enhance our food and services and provide students the types of sustainable food options they desire.”

In December 2019, NMU Dining participated in a Forward Food Culinary Experience training event designed to help institutional food service operations incorporate more plant-based cuisine into their menus.


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