Whenever someone asks me where I work, I say “CHEWS.” Instantly, their change in posture and eyebrow squinting tells me that they have no idea what CHEWS means or what it does. For the most part, no one has ever heard of my job before. And that’s okay. No offense is taken. However, I want it to be known that Bates CHEWS is a notable component of Commons, and I hope students become increasingly aware of it.
So, what exactly is Bates CHEWS?
CHEWS is an acronym for our own Commons Healthy Eating and Wellness Society. We are a team of students led by Director of Dining Cheryl Lacey, and we seek to educate the student body about a nutritional wellness culture and sustainable dining in Commons. Rather than be an overassertive force that lectures students about healthy food options, our goal is to provide suggestive information about food, nutrition, exercise, stress reduction, mental health and sustainability.
How we go about providing this information varies. One of the most prominent components of our work is seen every day in Commons through our table advertisements. These are designed by a team member every week in light of an upcoming event, relevant news, or educational information about some aspect of wellness.
In the time of writing, our latest table advertisement focuses on the issue of how nine hundred Commons’ mugs have been taken, and the environmental and economic implications from this worrying dilemma. Nine hundred is no small number, and Commons cannot afford to continue replacing mugs at this rate. So, we ask everyone to please return all those unused mugs from their room and start bringing their reusable containers to Commons instead.
CHEWS also develops, coordinates, and presents monthly events in Commons. In the past, we have hosted events such as Commons Resolution in January and serving fresh-squeezed lemonade in May. Our most popular event is the Iron Chef Competition where students compete with one another to produce the best dish, which is judged and chosen by various professional staff.
For October, Commons is focusing on buying food locally to promote sustainability by reducing travel miles and preserving green space. The week after Fall Recess, we are a sponsoring a visit from Greenwood Orchards, who is the source of Commons cider and most of their apples.
Starting soon, CHEWS is organizing a biweekly competition involving Commons Creations, which are meals created by students. The logistics are still being ironed out, but essentially each biweekly winner will win a ten-dollar Den gift card!
With Dining’s introduction of NetNutrition this school year, students have the opportunity to easily access information about items on the Commons menu. The top eight allergens are identified, and information is provided on calories, fats, cholesterol, and nutrients in food.
Moreover, CHEWS is aiming to design pictures that portray examples of serving sizes so students can visually see what it means to have a four-ounce serving size of something like mashed potatoes. Students with food-related questions or dietary needs can get more information from Kelly Perreault, who is the Special Dietary Needs Liaison in Commons. Individual nutrition counseling is also available through the Bates Health Services.
As a CHEWS team member, I can tell you we are constantly striving to improve our work. We are actively seeking a new member, preferably a first year, who will add a new perspective on food and nutrition in Commons. We hope to see you at some of our upcoming events.