nuCuisine webinars focus on health, wellness

Paulina Firozi

Northwestern students, staff and community members will be able to learn about topics ranging from social media marketing to fitness and health at monthly webinars, nuCuisine officials said.

The Innovation Webinars, pre-recorded presentations by nuCuisine members and guest hosts, are played for attendees over lunch served from a menu created by nuCuisine district executive chef, John Krickl according to nuCuisine district manager Steve Mangan.

“It is Sodexo, our food service partner, bringing to bear their corporate resources and expertise in trends in higher education and in food,” said Richard Thomas, executive director of Norris University Center.

The webinars also include topics such as diversity and future predicted trends on campus, Mangan said. Most recently, former Olympic gymnast Shannon Miller hosted a webinar presentation and discussed the importance of healthy eating, physical activity, stress relief and overall wellness.

Mangan said the luncheons have helped develop a networking system throughout different departments on campus. He said nuCuisine district dietitian Theresa Laurenz also emailed information from the webinars to those who did not attend.

“The luncheons are really a way to get people of the community together so that we can all have a uniform approach to different wellness and topics surrounding the campus,” Laurenz said. “We currently have a lot of different groups that have great resources. We just don’t know that each other is doing those programs.”

Laurenz said she hopes to help better inform students of what is going on around campus through these initiatives.

Although so far the presentations have been geared mostly toward administrative faculty, Thomas said nuCuisine hopes to bring students directly into the process. The next topic will introduce ideas about how to be a “green” student and will focus on sustainability.

“It’s my understanding that upcoming topics may be applicable to students, so Steve (Mangan) is going to be arranging to invite some students to come to the luncheons as well,” Thomas said.

He also said the luncheons provide a venue for nuCuisine chefs to experiment with new menu items. The products the chefs use will make their way into dining halls across campus to show nuCuisine and their menus are adapting to different needs.

“A fun thing with this is that we’ve used these webinars to pull folks in for lunch,” Thomas said, “to challenge the culinary staff to develop some new menus, as we develop our own green initiatives around local procurement of foods and implementing them into catering menus.”

Mangan said the reaction across campus from those involved with the luncheons has been very positive. NuCuisine has also provided access to the webinars for anyone interested in sharing the information in a different environment. The point, he said, was not only for people to see the information presented once, but to network and send it down the line to another who may be interested.

“I think there’s an opportunity for people to look at the dining services as more than just a food partner,” he said. “We have resources and information and programs that can support the University in other areas.”

[email protected]