Bellying Up to Healthy Meals

By John Gagnon | Published

Fruit is a favorite food in Michigan Tech residence halls.
Fruit is a favorite food in Michigan Tech residence halls.

March is National Nutrition Month, and Michigan Technological University is taking that seriously.  The public research university in Houghton, on Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, encourages students, faculty and staff to live healthy by eating healthy.

Nutritional meals are served in the residence halls, including a full complement of salads—“everything you could hope for in abundance, ” says William Hall, associate director of residential dining, which feeds 1,900 students.

Other healthy fare includes homemade granola; yogurt seasoned with dried fruit; instant oatmeal every day and old-fashioned oatmeal twice a week; eggs for protein and vitamin D; milk, soy milk, and juices; sugar-free beverages as an alternative to soda; herbal teas; nuts and berries; whole-grain bread; fresh veggies, including a make-your-own stir fry and a roll-our-own sushi bar with seaweed, vegetables and rice; gelatin; and two soups a day.

Do the students go for all that healthy food?  Applesauce is one of the most popular items overall, says Hall, as are the fresh fruits added to the menu this year, including kiwi, apples, cantaloupe, grapes, oranges, peaches and pears. “It’s amazing how students take to fruit,” Hall says. “Bananas,” he adds, “are the fruit of choice.” He’s gone through more than 15,000 pounds of bananas since September 2010.

Hall has been in the food business for more than 30 years. “We’re meeting a demand,” he says, “and we’re doing more than we ever have in this way. There are a lot of healthy choices. There’s no doubt about it.  Of course, we’re watching trends around the country, too.” One of those trends is abandoning the use of frying oil heavy with trans fat. Since 2007, Michigan Tech Dining Services uses only unhydrogenated soybean, olive and canola oil.

Still, some students prefer hamburgers, and he sells more pizza than anything. It’s a cultural thing, he says. “That’s the way we were raised.”

While students find healthy meals in their residence halls, a wellness program called HuskyPAW helps University employees start their journey to a healthier diet. Sparkpeople, a free program available to members of HuskyPAW, offers “31 Days to a Healthier Diet,"  a resource for tracking nutrition on a daily basis.

Participants can earn points toward incentive prizes, and for each 500 points earned, an employee is entered into a drawing to be held after each semester for a wellness gift basket.

For more information about HuskyPAW, see  or contact 

For residence hall dining information, contact William Hall,, 906-487-2688.

Michigan Technological University is a public research university, home to more than 7,000 students from 54 countries. Founded in 1885, the University offers more than 120 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in science and technology, engineering, forestry, business and economics, health professions, humanities, mathematics, and social sciences. Our campus in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula overlooks the Keweenaw Waterway and is just a few miles from Lake Superior.