UVM dining hall aims to foster healthy eating habits

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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) Anxiety, fatigue, and no desire to work? They're just some of the symptoms of bad eating habits. Habits that a new University of Vermont initiative hopes to avert.

"My plans were to live a college student life," said Devon Pernicone, a UVM freshman. "Cheap microwaveable food and not really put to much mind into what meal I'm going to have."

Don't worry Devon Pernicone, you're not alone. Most college students feel the same way when they step on campus for the first time. However, this freshman has options.

"Open my eyes more about nutrition and what kind of ingredients I want to use. I have a more balanced and healthy meal," Pernicone said.

UVM opened a new dining hall at the start of the school year. "It's a big deal," said Sarah Langan, an executive chefs on campus. She says the new stations only serve healthy foods. "They don't know and they are tempted. We can give them the right choices so it's easier."

At the 'Exploration Station,' students can make their own snacks and meals to learn about the nutritional value in every bite. "We have digital screens constantly flashing what to do to relieve stress, to eat better, what are the nutrients in an apple," Langan said.

And if you thought having nutritious stations dedicated to healthy food was different from your college experience, wait until you walk 10 feet into the 'Discovery Kitchen.' Anywhere from 16 to 30 students twice a week can learn hands-on experiences cooking. "It's been in the works for a long time," Langan said.

Cooking classes for non-culinary students, and not for credit. But students are signing up, and they're not learning simple recipes. "Just yesterday there was a dumpling class," Langan said. "They've been fed all their lives... what are the right choices and how to cook some food."

Langan says the classes help students maintain a well-balanced lifestyle and learn a vital life skill needed post-graduation.

And students in her class agree. "It'll give me more flexibility in choosing not the quicker, less healthy option, but instead something that's more prepared and thought about," Pernicone said.