Students record what they eat for Sodexo study

Meghan Morris

Northwestern students who eat lunch and dinner in dining halls can monitor their food intake by signing up for a paid four-week food tracking experiment run by Sodexo.

Participants in the social nutrition study, which will run from April 30 to May 25, will record what they eat in a Web application on their smartphones or computers. At the end of the experiment, they will receive a $50 Visa gift card and be entered to win an iPad.

Pam Yee, nuCuisine’s district marketing manager, said more than 500 students have already signed up for the study. She said sign-up ends Friday and that the company needs at least 100 students to take part in the experiment. She is not sure if all 500 students currently signed up will be able to participate.

NU is the second place in the U.S. to participate in this study, Yee said, and the third in North America.

Weinberg sophomore Aaron Zelikovich said he was asked by Sodexo to recruit participants last week, so he sent out listserv emails to get as many students involved as possible. nuCuisine also advertised the study in dining halls and on its website. Zelikovich said he would like to participate in the study as well, but because he eats dinner in his fraternity house, he does not know if he is eligible.

“Obviously it’s great you get to earn $50, but also it allows me to track what I’m eating,” he said. “I can make sure I’m consciously making decisions and not going for good food that’s really bad for me.”

Zelikovich recruited Medill freshman Maddie Kriger to apply for the study. She signed up for the experiment on her smartphone but will likely use her laptop to input food each day if she is selected. Kriger said her main motivation for participating was the $50 gift card.

“It’s a good idea that they’re doing something to take a step to improve the food,” Kriger said. “The food in our dining hall is fairly good quality, but there’s a lot of room for growth. By gauging what people are taking and how much people are eating, I think that’s a good step.”

Zelikovich said students’ involvement would benefit others as well, once Sodexo analyzes the results of the month-long study.

“More students participating means more feedback, which could lead to more improvement for the student body as a whole,” he said.

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