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Few students aware of Bon Appetit’s online caloric information

Bon Appetit provides nutritional information for all of its food options on campus. Students can find the information online. (Anna Corson)

Although the nutrition information for dining facilities at Mills is available online, few students know about it.

The data, which provides data about the food served at Founders Commons, the Tea Shop and Cafe Suzie, is available

“Nope, I had no idea (the information was available),” junior Jillian Harris said. “I mean, it’s obvious that they post signage denoting vegan, vegetarian, etc, but I didn’t know about calorie counts.”

Students can access information online for fat, saturated fat, carbohydrates, protein and sodium content. The Palo Alto-based Bon Appetit, which Mills has used since July 2007, serves food in 400 facility cafes in 28 states. According to Terri Brownlee, Bon Appetit’s Regional Director of Nutrition, the nutrition guide, originally compiled and published in 2003. It was last updated in 2008. Brownlee calculated the information based on data provided by the United States Department of Agriculture.

Bon Appetit has been selected multiple times by the Princeton Review as “No. 1 College Food Service in the Country.”

Brownlee said that the foods listed on the website may vary from what’s actually being served.

“We do cook from scratch in all of our kitchen, and our focus on fresh, seasonal foods also means that our menu items vary per location and availability of specific ingredients,” Brownlee said.

Since March 2010 restaurants with 20 or more locations in the country have been required to post caloric information for consumers.

Despite this federal law, Junior Jillian Harris was unaware that Bon Appetit provides the data for students.

“I haven’t seen it advertised anywhere at Founders, and I actually read the little tri-fold (brochures) on the tables, so I know it’s not there,” Harris said.

Even though the data was news to Harris, the international relations major said she thought it was valuable for students.

“It’s a good idea, however, I only know a few people who actually go online to check out the weekly menu,” Harris said. “I’ve checked online a few times, when my sister comes up to visit… but otherwise, (I don’t think) many people go to the Mills website to check out the founders menu for the week.”

First year Kelly Dingman was also unaware of the nutrition information posted online.

“It would be helpful to know that they did that, (especially) if someone is heath conscious for whatever reason, ” Dingman said. “It’s also just helpful to know what I’m eating.”

The anthropology major said she felt the information was important for students who live on campus and eat the majority of their meals at one of the on-campus dining options.

“If students are going to be eating Bon Appetit food for most of their meals, then they have a right to know how much they are consuming,” Dingman said.