Food Perspectives from Harvard School of Public Health
Education Update (EU): We’ve heard your food is exceptional. How have you achieved such high standards?
Harvard U (HU): Harvard University Hospitality & Dining Services (HUHDS) — which operates 13 residential dining halls, 14 campus retail cafes, a kosher kitchen, a campus debit card program, and a complete catering service on Harvard’s campus — is a roughly 500-person-strong team of culinarians, operators, and foodservice professionals who work together to create creative menus that meet a broad array of tastes, preferences and needs. We enjoy close ties with the Boston area’s food and nutrition communities, allowing us to use great ingredients in interesting new ways. Of course our greatest resource is the Harvard School of Public Health’s Department of Nutrition, whose work crafting a Healthy Eating Pyramid has been a guiding force for our menus.
EU: How does cost factor into providing the high-quality food at HUHDS?
HU: Every operation at Harvard works within a defined budget. We buy locally as much as possible, and carefully balance options to provide a range of choices to our guests across campus. In addition, we work closely with vendors as new nutrition information becomes available, finding partners in the effort to eliminate trans-fats, reduce sodium, etc.
EU: What advice would you give to a college student who is trying to be more health conscious?
HU: We follow the recommendations of the Harvard School of Public Health and the Healthy Eating Pyramid in building our menu. It is a great resource and reference for anyone trying to make educated, mindful choices. Their focus is always on fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins.
EU: What advice would you give to people who manage cafes and cafeterias in the public as well as private sector?
HU: Our job is to provide healthy options at every meal, and allow guests to make educated choices. Our customers respond well to having a choice in how they want to eat, and they particularly enjoy the creative, flavorful preparations that teach them a new way to love an ingredient.
EU: What are the challenges you face at the café?
HU: One of the things we most enjoy is working closely with the Department of Nutrition and the Harvard School of Public Health’s Nutrition Roundtable to translate their findings into real-world, commercial foodservice application. It’s a great challenge that keeps us passionate about developing new recipes, and methods of service. #
Crista Martin is the Director of Communications and Marketing, Harvard School of Public Health