Café offers less fat, more cyber space

Dwayne Yates

Food 4 Thought has healthy eating options

Credit: DKS Editors

Food 4 Thought Cyber Café doesn’t have a fryer or a grill, but it still serves burgers. The café is located on the second floor of White Hall and sells healthy alternatives to the food offered at many places on and around campus.

Customers Rachel Foot and Nataliya Dmitrieva said the house salad and chicken wrap are “fresh and nutritious.”

The café opened in August 2007. It was created and is managed by Greta Siler, a professor in the department of nutrition and dietetics. Mary Dellmann-Jenkins, interim director of the School of Lifespan Development and Educational Sciences, assigned Siler in starting the café.

Before the café opened, White Hall had few food options.

“There are roughly 1,800 people in the building a day, and the only available food was in the vending machines downstairs,” she said. “All they had (before) was candy, chips and juice.”

At the time, Siler was a nutrition graduate student. She used what she learned in the nutrition program to build a menu that would be healthy for students.

“With all the fast-food restaurants around here, there’s a lack of healthy places where you can go and get healthy portion sizes,” she said. “We also want to provide quality ingredients with vitamins, minerals, anti-oxidants and protein.”

Margaret Preston, human development and family studies major, works for Food 4 Thought. She said she wishes the restaurant could accept meal plans so her friends with meal plans could eat food that is better for them.

“I tried to bring my friends here, but I couldn’t because we can’t take the food plan,” Preston said. “So I came here and got a giant salad, and they went to Rosie’s and got chicken fingers and fries.”

Siler said that because the café is not affiliated with Dining Services, it cannot accept meal plan money.

Preston said most of the students who work at Food 4 Thought are healthy eaters and are lucky to work at a place where they can eat healthy food for free. She said staying healthy is hugely influenced by what one eats, and health is a top priority for students in residence halls.

“When you’re living on campus, you should eat healthy,” she said. “You live in a dorm, and you share a bathroom with your whole floor. It’s important to eat healthy so you don’t get sick.”

Foot and Dmitrieva don’t only enjoy the healthy food at the café. They said they like the atmosphere, too. Foot is an education major, and she spends a lot of time in White Hall.

“It’s convenient,” she said. “It doesn’t get too busy, but there’s things going on. I can read here, and when you’re in here, someone you know always walks in.”

The creation of Food 4 Thought served as Siler’s master’s project. Her experience working in the restaurant business qualified her for the assignment of planning, designing and running a café, but this is her first time managing a business.

“This was the first business I ever started,” Siler said. “I was putting one foot in front of the other and learning as I went.”

The café offers wireless Internet connection and is open Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Friday 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Contact College of Education, Health, and Human Services reporter Dwayne Yates at [email protected].