Oklahoma City University has opened what it terms "the first known college campus raw vegan food station in the country." Operated by dining services provider Sodexo Campus Services and open to the public, it is located in OCU's cafeteria. Installed during Fall Break, it is designed to offer healthier dining options to students and the campus community.
“We’ve made several recent changes in our menu options to promote students’ health, but this is certainly the biggest,” says Kelli Keegan, director of operations for OCU Dining Services. “Students, and their parents, should rest easy in knowing that they’ll be able to get tasty and nutritious meals.”
Keegan added that having the daily raw vegan options would also be a good recruiting tool for the university and hopes it becomes known as the best college in the country for vegetarian students.
A vegan commercial eatery called 105degrees Café and Academy, located in nearby Oklahoma City, is helping OCU get started with its new dining offerings. 105degrees Director Megan Massoth ran the raw vegan station when it debuted on campus on October 25th with her Pad Thai recipe, and other guest chefs from the restaurant are scheduled to work shifts at OCU during the rest of the school year.
The university’s concept came as a result of an idea from Keegan and Brett Wheat-Simms, Sodexo’s regional labor specialist. After visiting 105degrees, the two became fans of the cuisine and began experimenting on their own.
“We loved the food and the fact that it retains more of its nutritional value than other cooking methods,” Keegan says.
The new station adds to other recent offerings for OCU Dining Services including the use of fair-trade coffee and tea, organic vegetables and gluten-free grains. It also claims to be the first university in the state to exclusively use cage-free eggs. In addition, the cafeteria began using fresh ingredients like basil, thyme and peppers from OCU’s new community garden this summer.
Along with the new raw vegan station, Keegan is introducing a fresh juice station. The chefs will make a special flavor mix each day. The cafeteria will also have almond, rice and soy milk available.
The cafeteria is open to the public with an all-you-can-eat format for $6.95. In addition to the vegan offerings, it also offers a grill station, sandwich counter, hot entree special, pizza, dessert counter and a salad bar.
The cafeteria is located in the Tom and Brenda McDaniel University Center near Florida Avenue and N.W. 25th Street. It is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner during the regular school semesters. Hours are from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays, and 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and 5 to 7 p.m. on weekends.
Although OCU will still have its traditional food options available, Keegan said the raw vegan station enhances the menu for vegetarians.
“We had a great variety before, and now it’s even better,” she says. “There’s something in the OCU Cafeteria for everyone no matter their diet or taste preference.”