Por Vida

UTSA Roadrunner Café food vendor, Aramark kicked off a new campaign last week that makes healthy meal planning easier for UTSA students.

The Por Vida program offers students a wide range of food choices and flexible menus designed to make healthful meals easy to understand.

“It’s a great, great program,” Louis Keefe, Resident District Manager of Aramark Higher Education said.

Aramark made the program available to students two weeks before the official kick-off last week, and Keefe is excited to announce that the café served over 100 more Por Vida meals than he expected.

“That tells me that students are looking for better choices,” Keefe said.

To make a Por Vida meal, students can choose one entrée and two side items from a large selection of menu offerings precisely calculated not to exceed 700 calories and 23 grams of fat.

Bright red and yellow signs with a heart-shaped fork and spoon logo will designate all the daily Por Vida selections throughout the café. In addition to caloric and fat content, Por Vida meals contain no more that 0.5 grams of trans fat and limit sodium content to 750 mg. Fried foods are strictly prohibited.

Aramark, which serves between 1,300 and 1,400 UTSA students daily, was approached by program organizers last year to help formulate menus that meet the program’s standards. Kathy Shields, Chronic Disease Prevention Manager for the San Antonio Metropolitan Health District, praised Aramark for their thorough menus and their eagerness to join forces to implement the Por Vida Program.

“Aramark’s menus had already been analyzed [for nutritional content], which is the toughest part of implementing this kind of program,” Shields said.

Aramark’s commitment to Por Vida has inspired long-term plans for Keefe.

“Later in the year, I want to get together with UTSA students from the Health Sciences departments to find out if there may be more items their peers would like us to offer,” Keefe said.

The Por Vida program was launched in 2009 by the San Antonio Metropolitan Health District, which worked with the San Antonio Restaurant Association (SARA) and the San Antonio Dietetic Association (SADA), to find creative ways to help restaurants offer more healthful menu items. Since 2010, 10 San Antonio restaurants have added Por Vida selections to their menus. Aramark and The Roadrunner Café are the newest partners to join the San Antonio Metropolitan Health District in offering healthful alternatives to fried food.

“More and more restaurant customers are asking for healthier menu choices. Restaurants know that if they can get these customers in the door, they’ll be back,” Shields said. UTSA’s Roadrunner Café is the first college restaurant in San Antonio to be designated a Por Vida restaurant.

San Antonio ranks as the 7th “fattest” city in the U.S., according to Men’s Health.

“We know that 67 percent of adults in San Antonio are overweight or obese,” Shields said.

Not statistics to be proud of, but Shields and Keefe are confident that Por Vida will provide students with enough information to make better nutritional choices.

“This is the prime time to provide education and awareness to students so they don’t fall into the weight gain trap of college,” Shields said.

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