Falls is Sodexo executive chef at Liberty University, and for years she’s been looking for the best ways to serve the campus and meet students’ needs. But during a time like this, what do they actually need? Student stress levels are rising at Liberty, like many college campuses across the country. Not surprisingly, the pandemic year hasn’t been good for the overall mental health of college students. And research has found that stress and anxiety top the list of issues happening to students.
According to a survey by the Jed Foundation (a nonprofit preventing teen and young adult suicide) conducted last semester, “a high proportion of students are dealing with anxiety (82%)…trouble concentrating (62%) and difficulty coping with stress in a healthy way (60%).” The study also found that 37% of students are caring for their emotional health through nutrition (eating a variety of healthy foods daily).
To help students at Liberty University, Falls and Resident Dietitian Rachel Sanders worked together to develop Study Snacks, a series of snacks designed to nourish students during stressful times.
Photo: Helping students fuel up—and feel less stressed—with healthy snacks is Executive Chef Sarah Falls’ latest focus at Liberty University.
Different dining venues around campus are highlighted in the program to show students how close healthy options are in their daily life at Liberty.
“To keep the students fueled and energized throughout the day, we like to show them what their healthy snack options are around campus,” Falls says. “This way they can stay on top of their nutrition and their studies.”
The snacks have been chosen for the nutritional punch they pack: At the Garbanzo station, students can find a pita stuffed with turmeric rice, hummus and tabbouleh, components rich in protein, fiber and healthy carbs to improve brain function and memory. At the smoothies station, natural!, the spinach-berry “The Hulk” smoothie is the perfect recharge after studying or a workout with fiber, vitamin C and antioxidants in the berries, plus the potassium, folic acid and iron found in spinach.
The food court at the Reber-Thomas dining hall is focusing on healthy breakfast-all-day snacks, with an omelet station for the protein and nutrients of eggs paired with whole-grain toast. Speaking of toast, a simple snack of toast with peanut butter (a source of unsaturated fatty acids) is another great way to pair protein with grains. The program is also spotlighting dark-chocolate granola bars and antioxidant-rich Argo Tea at different locations.
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