Supporting Plant-Forward Choices in North Dining Hall

Supporting Plant-Forward Choices in North Dining Hall

Brittany Benninger

I will study the how and why Notre Dame students make choices when putting together their plates at North Dining Hall in order to promote plant-forward choices. Eating a plant-forward diet is one of the best things individuals can do to mitigate climate change and to make our society one that the planet can sustain.

Benninger DiginThe Instagram account of Dig Inn, where Benninger interned in summer 2018

My work will have a two-pronged approach by using applied anthropology methods: observations of and interviews with students and annotated drawings of North’s spatial layout. I will work closely with the head culinary staff at North as well as the culinarians and the line staff to learn from their expertise to then implement changes to North Dining Hall. Tools at my disposal include doing “cuttings” (i.e. tastings) of plant-forward foods and collecting student feedback, changing how certain set ups are arranged (namely the salad bar), changing the plating and portions of foods offered, offering popular plant-forward foods at multiple points instead of one, showcasing plant forward meals to students (perhaps a pop-up “suggested meal” using a plant-forward special of the day), highlighting plant-forward menu offerings via Campus Dining’s social media platforms (namely Instagram stories and Snapchat), etc. I am working closely with Campus Dining (namely, Cheryl Bauer, Jocie Antonelli, and the Leadership team at NDH) to implement and analyze these interventions.

The end result of my project will be a list of tactics applied to North Dining Hall to encourage plant-forward foods and an analysis of each tactics’ success. This compilation will serve Campus Dining as they inform any new dining locations or remodeling projects, such as the upcoming South Dining Hall remodeling. I hope that more Notre Dame students shift their eating patterns to include more plant-based foods and realize how easy it is to do so.