With statistics showing that Black Americans are twice as likely to die from conditions like diabetes, contract management company Aladdin Campus Dining, a unit of Elior North America, is partnering with actor/producer Terrence J to support and promote healthy eating programs and initiatives in Historically Black Colleges & Universities (HBCUs). Terrence J, who serves as ambassador for the Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF) and has himself struggled with developing and sticking to healthy eating habits as an adult, says he wants to give his advice and create more accessibility to healthier food for Black college students.
“Developing healthy eating habits has been one of the biggest struggles I’ve faced as an adult,” he offers. “With some better advice and also access to healthier food in college, I don’t think I would have had to work so hard to maintain my health. I’m thrilled that my work as an ambassador for the Thurgood Marshall College Fund has led me next to Aladdin Campus Dining and presented this fantastic opportunity to reach the HBCU community about vital health issues.”
To support the initiative, Aladdin chefs and dietitians are working to create dining programs for students that are culturally relevant and comforting without sacrificing nutrition, balance and flavor, including dishes from the domestic Black experience as well as from cuisine traditions in regions like Africa and the Caribbean. To that end, the company’s BeWell proprietary wellness platform is incorporated into every menu, to make healthy options always available and always delicious.
The customized programs are available at Aladdin’s HBCU partner schools, which include Albany State University and Savannah State University in Georgia, Bowie State University in Maryland, Saint Augustine’s University in North Carolina, Jarvis Christian College and Paul Quinn College in Texas and Clinton College, Morris College and Voorhees College in South Carolina.
Photo: Actor/producer Terrence J is a HBCU graduate who has struggled with healthy eating and now wants to encourage students at HBCUs to make good dining choices.
Credit: Terrence J
With COVID restricting in-person appearances, Terrence J’s involvement currently involves some video presentations, but the company hopes to have him come to some campus where it operates when it becomes feasible, says Trenna Grice, senior director of business development for Aladdin Campus Dining.
The alliance came about as a result of Aladdin’s partnership with TMCF, Grice explains.
“We had some dialogue with their leaders about ways we might approach the campus communities, and one of them made the introduction,” she says.
As for the menus, all Aladdin units incorporate the BeWell platform but “we let each of our chefs and foodservice directors be entrepreneurial in what their offerings are going to be, so dishes are mainly crafted based on the demographics we serve,” Grice explains.
There is a BeWell option offered at every serving station, she adds, “so we’re just trying to elevate that awareness of having something healthier to eat,” and that is something the partnership with Terrence J is designed to facilitate. “I think that by having a voice such as his—he’s actually a graduate of an HBCU—it will help promote this program much more effectively.”