Make the Most of National Nutrition Month

March is National Nutrition Month - how can you make the most of it?

There is a misconception that one cannot maintain a balanced diet during their undergraduate and graduate years. Often college is the first time students are independent and able to make their own decisions. So while students struggle to balance classes, a social life and campus activities, it becomes more and more likely that maintaining balanced nutrition becomes less of a priority and will fall to the wayside.

Time, convenience, peer influence, accessibility and budget are all factors that play a role in the weight gain and poor nutrition habits students face during college. As part of National Nutrition Month (NNM), throughout March, colleges and Universities are finding ways to educate students and promote healthy nutrition on campus.

The University of Missouri, University of Illinois and Washington University of St Louis all found different ways to incorporate nutrition on their respective campuses. We've compiled a list of what they did to engage their students, faculty and staff across campus!

The University of Missouri

The University of Missouri attacks National Nutrition month head on. It's Campus Dining Services release weekly articles throughout the month of March which breaks down a complete nutrition plan into four sections: Whole grains, lean protein, dairy and fruits & vegetables. The articles highlight specific foods from each category, where to find them on campus and they even share insight on personal macronutrient goals to aim for based on your individual body type and your current goals.

Blogs are a great way to draw students' attention and provide them with nutrition information to refer to not only during March, but all year long. Check out the University of Missouri's Campus Dining Services blog for ideas about how to better motivate your students.

The University of Illinois

The University of Illinois (UI) takes an 'all hands on deck' approach. Over the years, the University has recruited departments from all over campus. Organizations including Campus Recreation, University Dining Services and NutrImpact, a student run organization, team up and host numerous events to promote nutritional education for it's students. Some of the events that UI implemented on their campus include:

  1. A Nutrition Fair where students can taste-test healthy snacks and win prizes.
  2. A Nutrition Midterm game show where students compete in trivia for prizes.
  3. A food vendor show called "Be Flexitarian" which served hundreds of plant-centric food samples.
  4. Healthy cooking class demonstrations where NutrImpact informed students on how to achieve a daily serving of fruits and vegetables.

The University of Illinois is a great example of how to get students involved while learning more about how to eat healthy on a budget, for certain activity levels, and healthy weight loss goals!

Washington University in St Louis

Washington University in St Louis (WUSTL) takes a creative approach to National Nutrition Month. WUSTL built an incentive program where students are rewarded for eating healthy with the chance to win a free Fitbit. Their "better-for-you option" rewards program allows students to simply pick up a punch card from any participating location on campus and when they purchase a 'Myplate' approved meal the cashier will punch their card. After any combination of 10 'Myplate' approved meals, students will turn in their card and be entered in a drawing to win one of four Fitbit Flex wristbands!

WUSTL takes advantage of its already existing resources and utilizes incentive program concepts students are already familiar with. The punch card rewards program makes students aware of the healthy choices that are already on campus and making them more willing to make the healthy choice to earn their punch. Playing to the popularity of the Fitbit fad, WUSTL is able to engage, motivate and aid its students in forming healthy nutrition habits that will carry over even after National Nutrition Month is over.

How you can raise awareness...

Creating National Nutrition Month awareness and encouraging students to form healthy nutrition habits does not have to be a daunting task. Get creative! Choose an idea to fit your campus' needs, goals and resources! In just a week or two, you can organize programs and events like University of Missouri, University of Illinois and Washington University of St Louis and build the buzz around campus.

Getting started is the hardest part. Here are a few ideas we recommend to help jumpstart your own National Nutrition Month campaign!

  • Decorate the cafeteria (or dining hall) with NNM posters or banners, table tents and balloons. Create a "take one" display with NNM brochures, bookmarks, Eat Right Nutrition Tips, and recipe handouts. (check out these Eat Right image assets for print promotions and reference sheets)
  • Highlight different ethnic and cultural food traditions. Offer special menu items from international cuisines (Asian, Mediterranean, Mexican, etc.) or regional foods of the United States.
  • Distribute coupons for discounts on healthy meals and groceries near campus.
  • Feature and advertise nutritious beverages, meals or snacks in the cafeteria.
  • Have a social media competition for a grocery gift card where students can submit and vote for the best healthy recipe.

Stop by our booth at the 2017 Campus Rec & Wellness Expo

fitDEGREE will be exhibiting at the NIRSA 2017 Campus Rec & Wellness Expo in National Harbor this coming February. Stop by and see our reps in Booth #1014.

To find more ideas like these check out "eat right - Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics" and join the team of colleges and universities nationwide celebrating National Nutrition Month!