Binghamton University has teamed up with the Partnership for a Healthier America (PHA) to promote changes on campus that encourage healthy lifestyle practices for students.
The announcement was made at the 142nd Annual Meeting and Exposition held by the American Public Health Association (APHA) in New Orleans on Nov. 16. Binghamton’s is one of the nearly 100 partnerships PHA has made with colleges and universities and corporations such as Sodexo and Walmart.
PHA is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that aims to fight against childhood obesity and encourage healthier habits for young adults and kids. First Lady Michelle Obama serves as an honorary chairman of PHA, and New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker is one of the vice-chairmen.
According to BU’s B-Healthy Initiative, the University has agreed to a total of 23 changes by joining the initiative.
Changes include implementing a local food procurement program and offering at least five fruits and five vegetable choices in dining halls. In addition, every platform serving meat must also offer a plant-based alternative.
BU will also provide registered nutritionists, who will offer personal assessments of nutrition and healthy lifestyle counseling. It will also offer outdoor recreational equipment for rent and create a two-mile walking route around campus.
According to Elly Spinweber, director of communications and marketing for PHA, the PHA started the Healthier Campus Initiative to get colleges across the country to build more physical activity and health food-friendly environments.
“For many students, college is a time when new habits are formed,” Spinweber said. “By creating healthier food and physical activity environment today, campuses and universities are encouraging healthier habits that will carry over into tomorrow.”
Cindy Cowden, associate director of Campus Recreation, said that joining the PHA will benefit both the students and the University.
“If we can help break down the barriers to students making the best possible health-related choices, we are all that much closer to an outcome that includes students that are healthier, happier and academically successful,” Cowden said.
According to Spinweber, most students are not eating healthily or getting enough physical activity. With the new changes, students will have the ability to make better choices for their health.
Kristina Klimek, a junior majoring in environmental studies, has been working with the Intellectual Decisions on Environmental Awareness Solutions (I.D.E.A.S.) Binghamton chapter to promote local food initiatives on campus. Klimek said that joining the partnership is a move in the right direction.
“Promotion is definitely a good first step, but it’s up to people to take that and apply it to their lives,” Klimek said. “It will only be effective if people really want change.”
BU offers many programs that focus on health and wellness, but changes will be made to meet the new guidelines. According to Cowden, while Campus Recreation offers a number of free classes and activities, under the new guidelines they will need to add “How To” courses to educate students.
“We are confident we can achieve, if not exceed, these programming guidelines in the future,” Cowden said. “The Initiative is working to generate an identity that creates an awareness of the abundance of healthier living options available to the University community.”