It’s not unusual for students to say their favorite time of day is lunchtime—and for good reason. At GPS, the dining possibilities are seemingly endless. From rotating salad bars filled with mediterranean couscous and marinated mushrooms to build-your-own panini stations, daily soups, classic meat-and-threes, and vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free offerings, options abound for everyone.
This year, the GPS Health & Wellness Center, under the leadership of Dean of Health & Wellness Beverly Blackwell, has closely partnered with our SAGE dining team to expand our offerings and focus on the best nutritional options for students.
Beverly has also worked with Matt Green, a fellow Strength & Conditioning coach, to add a nutrition component to their Strength & Conditioning classes. “Matt has been instrumental in getting this started,” she says. “In these classes we discuss the different approaches to performance eating. We’ll talk through what a plate should look like pregame or postgame—we make sure they know the best foods to pick for optimum performance,” she says.
While steamed vegetables and proteins are available in the GPS cafeteria daily, Chef Richard explains, “In talking with Beverly and Melissa [Nati, the school nurse], we heard concerns that there weren’t enough healthy options, so we created a new raw (non-processed) foods bar with rotating seasonal options.” Some favorites from this new bar have included avocado toast with various toppings, daily hummus and pita, and build-your-own sushi.
Other changes sprouting from this closer partnership include the addition of more proteins to the salad bar, such as grilled chicken. “We knew that, while there was always deli meat, sometimes girls wanted to be able to grab chicken or something similar that didn’t have a lot of seasonings or toppings,” Beverly said. “That way they can make whatever they want.” In fact, the grilled chicken proved to be a big hit the day a ramen bar was offered!
Beverly explains that this emphasis on healthy options means different things to different students. For example, while athletes may need to load up on certain types of foods before a big game, other students may need good brain food before a test. “Our goal is to ensure the Health & Wellness Center is a place where students can always learn,” Beverly says. “We want to teach students how to best fuel their bodies to be mentally productive, physically productive, and feel good throughout the day.”
Part of proper fueling comes from knowing your options, says Beverly. “There are a lot of options each day that students may not be aware of.” She recommends students review the menu (available on the MyGPS Resource Board or through the SAGE app) daily before heading to lunch. “You can see nutritional information, ingredients, and allergens, as well as just get a feel for that day’s options,” she says. “Sometimes going in with a plan can make the dining experience easier.”
Beverly, Melissa, and Chef Richard have also started a student committee with girls who have various dining needs or restrictions, which will meet monthly, to discuss opportunities for improvement. Students interested in joining this committee are encouraged to reach out to any one of the three of them.
Chef Richard is excited about this partnership and values feedback. “We build out our menus about a month in advance so they can be approved by the SAGE nutritionists, but that doesn’t mean we can’t make adjustments,” he says. “If any student ever has questions or wants help, I am always available.”