MyMenu Serves Up Nutrition Information
NMU Dining Services now offers MyMenu, an online resource that allows individuals to make food selections tailored to their personal needs and/or preferences. Users can review menu options up to a week in advance at most campus eateries, identify allergens in foods prepared by NMU cooks, view ingredients and nutritional content to make better choices, and preselect options that are vegetarian, vegan or gluten-free.
“Students and parents have been requesting nutritional information for the foods we serve for several years and with MyMenu, we can be responsive to those requests,” said Robin Rahoi, registered dietitian, pictured far right with Stephanie Raboin, marketing manager. “The best way to sell meal plans is to be able to tell students what’s in the food so they can have confidence in what they’re eating, especially those with food intolerances and allergies.
"Some studies now show that one in four individuals has problems with food allergies. Our goal is to have one of the best allergy-identifying programs in university dining. Taking this first step shows our commitment to our guests' needs. They don't have to ask what food contains and our staff doesn’t have to track down product packages to check the labels. MyMenu is continuing to grow; we are working to incorporate the Temaki & Tea menu and more menu options from the Marketplace and the Wildcat Den. We want to be careful as we proceed to ensure that it’s information we can stand behind.”
Dining Services uses food service and nutrition management software. Rahoi said NMU is using that database to tag allergens in the ingredients and recipes of more than 800 food products specific to NMU. For example, instead of listing the vague “lasagna,” MyMenu identifies the meal down to the ingredients used in the noodle and sauce components. Deli sandwiches identify nutrition information for each type of bun/bread, meat, cheese and topping. Some of the information has led Dining Services to make some changes. For example, it was found that the pre-packaged brand of flame-roasted peppers and onions used in NMU facilities contained five allergens, so Dining Services now sautés its own pepper/onion mix.
MyMenu is easy to navigate. From the main page, users click on the relevant campus eatery. If there’s a revolving menu (Marketplace, Wildcat Den), they also indicate the date they plan to visit. Once the item listing appears, users can hover over each item until the nutrition information, in the form of a food label, appears. They can select to view food options that comply with dietary preferences and allergies. These range from wheat, dairy and nuts to soy, MSG and fish. As those boxes are checked, options that don’t comply disappear from the list. MyMenu enables users to track and print out food and calorie content for each day.
“You don’t need special dietary requirements to benefit from MyMenu,” said Raboin (Dining Services), marketing manager. “It can help everyone gain a better understanding of exactly what’s in the food they eat and how much they’re eating in terms of serving size. Now that this first phase is complete, we can use MyMenu as a tool to educate students about making healthy choices.”
Rahoi is also increasing her visibility so students are aware there is a dietitian on staff. She has given classroom presentations and cooking demonstrations designed to help students learn how to budget, shop and cook on their own after they leave the residence halls. Rahoi said she is also available for individual meetings to help students and employees manage their diets, optimize weight loss or gain and find healthy options.
For more information, visit www.nmu.edu/dining and click on the MyMenu icon.