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Second Stop | All about the Top 1 University Cafeteria of U.S.-The Way to Eat at the University of Massachusetts

What you eat matters. The most fastidious Foodie universities in the United States will tell you how to eat better.


“During the Spring Festival of the Year of the Pig in 2019, a New Year menu - "Leads the Future" , designed by Good Food Fund and its 7 chefs, was brought to join the co-created Spring Festival dinner with five top universities in the United States, including Yale, Harvard, and Culinary Institute of America, promoting the exchanges of international sustainable diets.  This is the first time that Chinese chefs have toured the world's top schools. This passage is about the third part of the New Year Feast Tour: University of Massachusetts (UMass).

After debut at Yale’s New Year's Eve Feast, the Good Food Fund Delegation went to the next stop: UMass. On the morning of February 6, we came to University of Massachusetts Amherst, the largest of the five branches of the UMass, which is also the largest research university in New England.


The Most Fastidious Foodie University in the United States

Andrew Mangels, Vice President of the University of Massachusetts, welcomed the arrival of the "Good Food Delegation" on behalf of the school's teachers and students. Many people may not be familiar with the University of Massachusetts, but it is in the leading position in the food field in the United States and even the world.

1.         The UMass canteen ranks first in the United States. According to Vice President Andrew Mangels, an important reason why 70% of more than 30,000 students at UMass choose this university is that its canteen ranks the first place in the United States (Peers in the food industry agreed that the food UMass served tastes really good).

2.        The Department of Food Science of UMass is also ranked first in the United States and is truly a top discipline. Professor Decker, head of the Department of Food Science, is one of the most cited authoritative scientists in the agricultural / food field in the world and an expert of the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). In addition, the Department of Hospitality and Tourism Management at UMass, founded in 1938, is consistently ranked in the top ten in the United States, and its major is ranked in the top 20 in the world. Vice-President Andrew Mangels believes that the role of universities in food education for students is very critical. Most of the freshmen in college often leave their parents for the first time, and they need to learn how to choose food independently. Therefore, a good university canteen is very important for the physical and mental growth of students and can help young people develop good eating habits, and those food education will reward them with a lifetime. Of course, the food provided by top campus cafeterias is not only delicious, but also healthy, sustainable and environmentally friendly. Umass is committed to encouraging its students to eat food they didn’t eat before, such as tofu and greens, which are not common in the United States. In addition, they also advocate the purchase of local ingredients to support the local food system. At the same time, they advocate to reduce costs by controlling food waste, making restaurant operations more economical.


In addition, Mr. Ken Toon, catering director of UMass, also shared his successful experience in catering at UMass:


Note: The University of Massachusetts has been ranked first in the nation for catering quality for three consecutive years. Mr. Ken Toon and Medal Ken Toon


Born in Hong Kong, he has demonstrated extraordinary leadership in the process of leading the University of Massachusetts Catering to excellence. When asked about the deep motivation behind a series of breakthroughs in catering at the University of Massachusetts, Ken said, "Do the right thing!" This sentence impressed the Good Food Fund Delegation. "Do the right thing" is the true core of leadership and the internal driving force for an organization to become superior, which is precisely the core values of American university restaurants that continue to push themselves to do better.


Reasonable Vegetable Food is Healthy, Shared Professor Eric A Decker


 The experience shared by Professor Eric A Decker, head of the Department of Food Science at the University of Massachusetts at Amhurst, is one of the highlights of the Massachusetts University station. Professor Decker is one of the most cited authoritative scholars in the field of agriculture / food in the United States. And the Department of Food Science at the University of Massachusetts was the earliest one founded in the United States (in 1918) and has always ranked first in the national food field. In addition, three of the 12 professors in the department are the most cited top 1% scholars in the food science field, ranking first in the world.


Professor Decker first shared the advantages and challenges of plant-based diets from a scientific perspective. He believes that plant-based diets have lower calories (depends on preparation), higher nutritional density, lower relative costs and are more sustainable than animal-based diets. At the same time, the advantages of plant-based diets also face some challenges and constraint. For example, if everyone becomes a vegetarian overnight, they are likely to be hungry because the US food policy subsidizes soybeans and corn to make feed. Therefore, if more Americans are to start a plant-based diet, they must promote the reform of US food policy and change the food subsidies. On the other hand, in terms of food safety treatment of plant-based diets, there are still challenges such as improper handling and preservation of farms at the present stage. At the same time, pure plant-based diets will also cause problems such as the absence of some nutrients and food waste. Another interesting point is related to plant-based diets and sodium. Plant diets with light processing are high in potassium and low in sodium and are relatively healthy, but relatively, because of the use of salt during fermentation like soy sauce, miso, pickled vegetables, etc., food with heavy processing contains high sodium. He used a set of data to show that the sodium content in Asian foods is higher: the average sodium consumption in Japan is 4.2 g per day, the average in China is 5.4 g per day, the average in Thailand is 4 g per day, and the US is 3.4 g per day. As for Chinese people's eating habits, more processed sodium products are often used in vegetable cooking. Finally, Professor Decker gave us a comprehensive display of the current status of the development of plant-based diets through the popular products of Beyond Burger, plant-based meat and other animal protein substitutes and the advantages and disadvantages of mixed meat. He concluded, "From the perspective of health and environment, we must promote the development of plant diets. Plant diet is an important part of healthy and sustainable food. However, during the promotion of plant diets, some issues need to be noted, such as nutritional collocation and food safety. We must work to improve the function of plant protein, reduce food safety risks, find sodium substitutes, and make plant diets delicious! (Americans don’t like greens, so the chef ’s role in promoting a healthy and sustainable diet is very important. They need to change the way to design delicious, providing healthy and acceptable vegetables.)

Diet Quality and Student Success (Shared by Professor Lisa M. Troy)


The following is the research results of Professor Lisa M. Troy ’s research project on the UMass Health Campus. Professor Troy is a senior scholar in nutrition research. She has participated in the formulation of the standards of the American Dietary Guidelines and also participated in the establishment of "The Nutrition Evaluation Laboratory (NAL)" on campus. Note: Proportion of eating habits of UMass students: 71.2% omnivorous, the remaining 28.8% are partly vegetarians, including prolactin 4.7% and vegan 1.9%


Research results


The relationship between diet and academic performance:

-It was found that the higher the proportion of sweets (added sugar) in the diet is, the lower score is;

-The higher the caffeine consumption, the worse academic performance.


The study has found that the relationship between high-quality food and high-quality academics is proportional to:

-Students with plant-based diets have better academic performance, especially students who choose a variety of high-quality plant-based diets.The University of Massachusetts ’s BMI index shows that the proportion of normal-weight students is higher than the overall average of American college students. Note: This chart shows that normal-weight students eat more vegetables, especially dark green vegetables, while students who consume more added sugar often have weight problems.  Finally, Professor Troy shared some ways to encourage students to eat more healthy plant-based foods: For example, eat a rainbow meal, put a lot of vegetable foods at the checkout counter to make plants the center and reduce the amount of food.


Note: The one on the left is a common cookie size, and the one on the right is the weight of the University of Massachusetts. It can satisfy the appetite of students but its weight is smaller, so the sugar intake is less, and it is cheaper. Cut the sweets into small portions, so that students unknowingly eat less.


Farm Visit


The farm has both organically grown and non-organically grown fruits and vegetables(the price of the former is about 70% higher than the latter). In the selection of ingredients, UMass students are more concerned about whether the food is local and seasonal than organic. In addition, this farm also plants and processes food in order to better provide high-quality and whole ingredients. Besides serving catering at the University of Massachusetts, they also supply some local supermarkets. Note: We are visiting the farm. Their products are supplied to the University of Massachusetts and some organic supermarkets.


 Note: The freshly harvested pumpkin

 Note: This is the raw material processing workshop for vegetable noodles, which is the raw material for cold zucchini and other cold dishes that many domestic restaurants serve.

 The University of Massachusetts cafeteria is full of Chinese element.

 Note: We are visiting the school's Marriott Center and student internship base.

 Note: The menu in the center has so many plant dishes.

 Note: "Good Food Delegation" Group Photo at UMass Dinner2.6. 2019

Jian Yi