By MARISA GOGLIA
A sizzling charcoal flavored burger, a side of crispy golden fries topped off with a cold refreshing drink is not the ideal happy meal for the millennial demographic at County College of Morris.
“I don’t eat a lot of fast foods,” said Daniella Peppe, a dance major. “Probably only once a month. As a dancer, I try to stay healthy and stay away from processed foods like McDonald’s and Burger King. I mainly eat salads because I’m concerned for myself, plus diabetes runs in my family.”
A bloomberg.com report found millennials, defined as between 20 and 36 years old, have an obesity rate of 20 percent compared to 32 percent of Generation Xers (37-51years old) and 33 percent of baby boomer era (52-70 years old).
The decline in obesity rate is partly due to nutritional information becoming widely accessible, from information obtained by npr.org. In 2015 the Food and Drug Administration released new rules that require fast food restaurants of 20 or more locations to provide calorie information on their menus and menu boards.
Nicole Gomes, a nursing major at CCM, is currently enrolled in a nutrition class. Gomes finds herself equipped with the knowledge on how to properly read a label. “The class teaches you how to read a nutrition label, and I now know what to look for,” Gomes said.
Gomes points out that consumers need to be wary when looking at the nutritional value and ingredients. “Sometimes what’s on the labels is not always what’s in the ingredients,” Gomes said. “If the ingredient is less than one gram, the company doesn’t have to put it on the nutrition label, they can just put zero. So, consumers need to look at the ingredients in written form to see what product goes in.”
Today 51 percent of millennials are gravitating towards a fast casual type of restaurant such as Chipotle, based on freshness and quality of ingredients, according to Morgan Stanley Research.
“I like Chipotle and Qdoba,” said Sara Riker, a nursing major at CCM. “I feel like those types of fast food restaurants don’t use frozen and processed ingredients.”
Even farms and apple orchards are diversifying their retail business by offering a variety of farm to table foods.
Steve Pennings, owner of Pennings Farm in Warwick, N.Y. started a cafe called Harvest Cafe to incorporate the farm to table trend into his business.
“Pennings Farm was looking for more customers and we saw millennials as a target audience,” Pennings said. “With us being a farm, it made sense that we can offer a menu that had some local produce, plus the use of our own produce.”
Pennings said it was an opportune time for the farm to test out this type of cafe. As the issue of healthy eating was coming into focus, “it was a good time for us to experiment the farm to table menu,” Pennings said. “I think healthy eating has finally become a major component to people’s diet.”
Holly Tighe, director of dining services for Chartwells is noticing the opposite choices being made at both cafeterias at County College of Morris.
“Since I’ve been here for the last five years, students are trending towards chicken tenders and french fries,” Tighe said. “We do offer grab-and-go salads. Students can customize salads at our Quizno’s location. There is also a full salad bar along with a fruit parfait bar. Students can purchase fruit cups as well as carrot and celery sticks, which has been going really well for us this semester.”
Fresher food options and advanced nutritional information will guide this generation into a healthier lifestyle.