NKU’s healthy food policy unique among Kentucky universities


Abby Anstead

Freshmen Macy Hamblin and Morgan Shafer enjoy a meal at The Village Café in Norse Commons. Vegetarian, gluten-free, and Healthy U options are offered every day.

During an average lunch period, 900 students, faculty and staff buy a meal at the food court in NKU’s Student Union.  That’s not to mention the 2,000 or more meals served in the residential dining halls every day.  These are just some of the people that benefit from NKU’s healthy food policy, the only policy of its kind in the state of Kentucky.

Melissa Pompa, residential district manager of Chartwells, the company that provides all the food services for NKU, said that healthy food is “a no-brainer.”  

“We are a food services company; obviously we’re here to serve our clients,” Pompa said.  “Health and wellness is part of food; it’s part of what Chartwells does.”  

The policy is designed to promote healthy food options and provide education about eating healthy.  

“It is our responsibility as a university to educate people on healthier choices,” Employee Wellness Manager Kim Baker said.  

The healthy food policy was designed by the Wellness Department to supplement Chartwells’ existing healthy food program.  

“I think it is a need across any college campus to make sure that people have access to healthy foods,” Baker said.

Under the policy, every food station must serve at least one ‘Healthy U’ food option. In addition, all events with catered food must include a healthy option and 30 percent of vending machine items must be healthy.  Finally, the nutritional value and allergen content of all foods must be clearly labeled.   Vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free meals are also marked as such.   

Brady Holmer, a junior exercise science major and a former vegetarian says he found being a vegetarian on campus easy.  

“I felt that most every day there was something being served at the Norse Commons which was filling, vegetarian, and most of all tasted good,” Holmer said.  “Even though I’m no longer a vegetarian, I still notice that vegetarian foods are ‘marked’ or ‘highlighted’ in many of the areas in the SU and Norse Commons.”

Providing healthy food options to thousands of people every day is not an easy task because some people want only salads and whole grains while others just want chicken fingers and pizza, according to Pompa.

“The biggest challenge is that you have extremes in everything,” Pompa said. “We’re here to provide food service for everyone.  We are not the food police,” Pompa said.

Students are welcome to make suggestions about the food on campus, according to Pompa. As long as there is demand for healthy food options, dining services will continue to evolve to meet the needs of students, faculty and staff.

Give feedback to dining services on the dineoncampus website feedback tab.