Health and Wellness are Among Key Yale Hospitality Initiatives

Both goals are emphasized in an integrated program approach.

Continuing efforts to improve the sustainability of Yale’s foodservice operations and to expand its wellness-based menu offerings are bedrock initiatives that undergird our dining department philosophy. Here are just a few of the ways they are reflected in our day-to-day operations:

Food Allergies and Dietary Restrictions. Food is central to college life at Yale and no one should have to miss out because of special dietary needs. Yale Dining works closely with students and guests with a range of special dietary needs from serious food allergies or medical conditions to lifestyle choices such as religious restrictions or veganism. Yale Dining maintains best practices and provides information that allows guests to make food choices that will allow them to eat well and safely in our dining halls. The safety of students and guests with special dietary needs is accomplished through a collaboration between the student, dining managers, culinary teams and Yale Dining leadership.  If menued options do not work for a particular meal, our culinary team will make custom preparations.  This is not only our responsibility, it is our privilege to help everyone eat both well and safely – we are happy to do it.  The process begins by contacting any Yale Dining manager and completing this form.

Plant-Based Protein Program. Yale Hospitality actively encourages health and wellness across its operations. This is reflected in everything from the cooking techniques employed, the plate portions offered and the ingredients we use. As part of that strategy, our customers are provided with delicious vegan and vegetarian options every day at every meal. These are dishes created and presented in ways that make them attractive to carnivores and herbivores alike, and our vegan-friendly program has been recognized by an “A” grade rating from PETA2.

Salt Reduction Initiative. The sodium content in the typical American diet far exceeds the recommended 2,300 mg level each day, even as elevated sodium consumption continues to be associated with increased risk for early heart disease and stroke. Yale Hospitality launched an initiative in 2010 to limit sodium across our menus by developing more healthful dining options with added flavor, but lower salt content. The judicious use of herbs, spices and other flavor enhancers have helped us reduce the overall sodium content of our dishes by 37% (2014) while still earning us top ratings for food quality in campus dining comparisons.

Spa Water Program. The overabundance of sugar in today’s diet is led by a wealth of sweetened juices and carbonated beverages. Yale Hospitality sugar reduction program counters this trend by offering delicious spa water infused with fresh fruit in all our residential dining halls and Commons. Students have praised and embraced this healthy, flavorful beverage and Yale Hospitality has noted a 35% reduction in sugary and carbonated beverages across campus. Fresh spa water refreshes, boost energy, helps maintain good health, and tastes great!

Catch of the Day. From New England Clam Strips and Chowders, to international favorites including Miso-Glazed Salmon and Sole Francaise, each week, our menus feature an assortment of fresh, flavorful seafood dishes.  Working with local seafood purveyors and companies dedicated to sustainability and transparency, we seek to select fish and shellfish that support Yale Hospitality’s dedication to the community and environment.  Whenever possible, we source our seafood from MSC Certified fisheries, and select options that are rated “Best Choice” or “Good Alternative” by the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch.  We serve only Alaskan salmon, which is wild-caught, all-natural, and eco-friendly.

Local Food Sourcing. Our Local 2 Yale program reflects our continuing efforts to develop cooperative relationships with a broad range of local and regional farmers and other providers in order to obtain and use an array of local produce, meat and other ingredients in nearly every meal. To do that, we work closely with these producers to provide quality assurance from farm to plate. The initiative also allows us to support local farmers who implement sustainable agricultural practices and demonstrate responsible stewardship of farmland.

Waste Reduction. Reducing food waste is important to the Yale community. We constantly seek new methods to ensure that our food purchasing and production represent industry best practices to reduce pre-consumption waste and our dining hall waste streams are managed to collect post-consumer waste. Wherever possible, waste is composted or recycled. This returns organic matter to productive land and reduces overall energy and water usage. And at point of choice, we encourage our guests to “Take what you eat, and eat what you take.” It introduces the idea of making responsible choices to go along with the age-old dictum, “Eat What’s on Your Plate.”

Nutrition Education and Food Literacy. Encouraging a learned and comfortable ability to make the right nutritional choices is an important part of the Yale educational experience  Our online nutrition tools can help any customer select daily meal offerings best suited to his or her nutritional, allergy or cultural dietary need. We also believe that we have an important responsibility to expose students to global and multicultural food traditions as part of the Yale Dining experience. Our authentic cuisine and menu offerings are often designed to perform this educational function.