McKinley’s boosts focus on nutrition

Christopher Plano, ’12, reaches for his sandwich at McKinley’s, which contains 456 calories and 19 grams of total fat. Photos by Dana D'amico.

McKinley’s offers students an array of eating options, many healthy, some not as healthy. Making smart choices is only possible with the right amount of information, which is why the staff at McKinley’s is making sure students have adequate information on the calorie and fat content, how they are prepared and where their ingredients come from.

“We’re making a stronger effort to get nutrition information more available, so students know what’s in their food before they buy it,” said Director of Dining Services Michael Zanie.
Nutritional info charts at the various sections of the made-to-order cafeteria are part of this effort toward greater disclosure. They enable students to make important nutritional comparisons or find out how many calories are in their favorite option.

Steve Reaugh, '11, enjoys a chicken sandwich from McKinley's.

“If you want a calzone, we want to make sure you know it has 820 calories and 30 grams of fat,” said Executive Sous Chef Lori Chiodo.
The Gator Grille, where McKinley’s prepares its grilled and fried foods, attracts many students to options like a hamburger and fries. A four-ounce hamburger carrying 410 calories would contain 173 more calories if made into a cheeseburger.

Pizziola Pizza at McKinley’s: 520 calories, 22g of Total fat

The french fries seem among the Grille’s healthier options, with 365 calories.
“Our fries are hand-cut from fresh potatoes in non-transfat oil,” Zanie said.
“We may advertise a special item that just isn’t good for you,” Zanie said. “But we will always let you to know the nutritional implications of getting it.”
The Salad Bar section provides a haven for healthy eaters like vegetarian Sara Schombert, ’13. “I love the fresh produce they always have at the salad bar and all the other areas,” Schombert said.
“Our commitment to the vegetarian community is something we like to keep,” said Director of Retail Joe Evans.
The salad bar offers a long list of vegetable options, which can create a very healthy meal. However, two tablespoons of any popular cream-based dressing, such as bleu cheese, caesar, French, or ranch will add 150 calories to your salad.
One serving of any fruit makes a smart side dish for under 100 calories, as opposed to a candy bar, which can be upwards of 200 calories.
“We started doing combos with fruit instead of chips or pretzels,” Chiodo said. “We want a healthier option available that is also a good value.”
Some students are taking note of McKinley’s increased focus on nutritional disclosure and availability.
“I’m seeing more healthy options out there,” said Sam Kessler, ’12.

BBQ Pork Sandwich at McKinley’s: 662 calories, 45g of Total fat

“I don’t think there are enough healthy options at night,” said Kim Simbeck, ’12. “The Grille is always open, but never the salad bar.”
McKinley’s preparation and sourcing of ingredients are other aspects of which the staff wants to create awareness.
“We make everything from scratch with fresh ingredients,” Zanie said. “Our meat is fresh and never frozen. We aren’t buying chunks of mystery cow.”
Parkhurst’s FarmSource initiative strives to create relationships with local farmers of meat and produce to provide as many fresh ingredients as possible.
“We source all of our produce from small farms, within a roughly 150-mile radius from Pittsburgh,” Zanie said. “We’re also using Allegheny’s herb gardens for all of our cilantro, basil, and parsley. We will always feature seasonal produce when we can.”