UBMunchies aims to help students make good nutritional choices – UBNow: News and Views for UB Faculty and Staff


May 7 was UB Day at the North Tonawanda Farmer’s Market – a win-win for UB students interested in healthy eating. Not only were they able to leave their college residence on a warm spring day, but they were also able to support farmers in Western New York and choose from a multitude of colorful fruits and vegetables displayed in tents at a loss of seen.

The day at the market was organized by UBMunchies, the newest eco-responsible project on campus. UBMunchies started in April as a capstone project with the aim of solving a problem that people encounter on a daily basis. But it has since grown into a full-fledged initiative with the power to influence the nutritional choices students make in their daily lives. Its mission: to educate students on what to buy at the grocery store and how to prepare nutritious meals on a budget.

When the students jumped off the special UB Stampede bus after arriving at the North Tonawanda Market – one of the region’s largest farmers’ markets – two members of the UBMunchies team greeted them each with $10 in vouchers to use. on the market.

Students who did not regularly make healthy food choices or who did not have the means to do so were given the opportunity to broaden their horizons.

“We found a gap in student health on campus and had the wherewithal to fill it,” said Jannat Inqiyad, a health and human services major with a minor in nonprofit leadership and a member of UBMunchies. . “We wanted to empower students to make healthier decisions and teach them about nutrition awareness.”

The students initially thought about bringing the Farmers’ Market to UB, but it proved logistically difficult to distance the individual vendors from their regular customers. UBMunchies therefore contacted Parking and Transportation with a proposal for a Stampede run to North Tonawanda.

“UB lost a few bus routes during COVID. We thought it was best for students to get off campus and it would be nice to have a social journey,” said Natalie Stevenson, a junior political science student. “Farmers Markets are a wonderful place to hang out and wrap up more with the Buffalo community, especially when you live on campus.”

In addition to hosting UB Day at the Market, UBMunchies posts nutrition tips, cheap and hearty meal recipes, and local restaurant reviews on Instagram. As UBMunchies members try new things, they get the same experiences and reap the same benefits that they pass on to the UB community.

“We want them to live sustainable lives in the future,” Benjamin Weiner, a senior economics major, said of the students UBMunchies reaches. “Studies show that you make choices that affect the next 20 or 30 years of your life in your early twenties – your college years. We want these habits to last a lifetime.

UBMunchies also hopes to combat food insecurity on campus. The group quickly becomes a useful resource for students by addressing an issue that could be having a negative effect on student achievement.

“Twenty percent of students are at risk of going hungry at the University at Buffalo,” according to an Instagram post from UBMunchies. “Food is one of the first things sacrificed for a student struggling to afford tuition, living expenses, books and supplies.”

Students noted that the problem has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. The nationwide labor shortage and supply chain challenges have hampered on-campus restaurants, leading to long lines, reduced hours, and even closed restaurants.

“I think especially after the COVID hit, dining options have dwindled,” said Evan Kuo, a senior business administration major with a concentration in finance and international trade. “There aren’t many healthy options to choose from.”

Campus Dining & Shops is looking to expand on-campus offerings this fall, based on available staffing levels.

“The dining options that were available last spring will reopen, along with the three remaining concepts inside One World Café (1846 Grill, Pan Asia, Noodle Pavilion), The Bowl in the Ellicott Food Court, and the small -lunch will return weekdays at Crossroads Culinary. Center,” said Raymond Kohl, director of marketing and communications for Campus Dining & Shops.

“Additionally, construction has begun at the Governors Dining Center to add a simple kitchen (a gluten-free/hypoallergenic space) with the plan to be completed by the start of the fall semester.”

UBMunchies hopes to leave a permanent mark on campus, either as an initiative or as a club. However, for now, members just want to make sure they have a solid structure. Long-term plans remain uncertain, but the band members would like to keep the Instagram page live after graduation. The group wants to maintain a base to attract others who continue their work.

“The skills we have learned and the work we have done in this project will continue throughout our future endeavors in our careers,” Inqiyad said. “Once we graduate, we will continue to champion our mission: accessibility, nutritional awareness and personal empowerment.”

By hosting UB Day at the North Tonawanda Farmers Market, UBMunchies members say they’ve brought UB and the Buffalo community a little closer together.

“Overall, we are here to serve UB students and the community around us,” Stevenson said.

“Not only were the students excited about the event, but it also helped the vendors. They expressed how excited they were to receive student engagement. We were happy to help the local community instead of funding large corporations with unethical sourcing.

At the North Tonawanda Market, vendors with friendly smiles packed fruits, vegetables and homemade produce for their UB customers. Nearby, a hungry college student sat on a park bench, munching on a tart green apple.

Mission accomplished.


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