Thursday, July 25, 2024

Clinton, Sundowner roll out updated food labels

Student Anna Myers pours beef chili at the Sundowner. The chili is labeled with a callout card that reads “Good source of protein.” As an athlete, Myers is intentional about her consumption of protein.


By Aleksandra Sidorova

The food labels at some campus dining locations have gotten a new look, including one completely new label.

The change is part of “fresh rollout” by Compass Group, the parent company of Chartwells, which provides food service to SUNY Plattsburgh, Resident Dietician Sarah Yandow said. Plattsburgh is one of the 300 universities in the U.S. to have its food labels updated starting Dec. 22, 2023.

These icons appear on TV screens above stations at Clinton Dining Hall displayed next to the name of a menu item. Yandow noted it is similar to labels in restaurant menus.

The labels used to be based on color-coding, but now they are based on lettering.

“It’s sort of confusing,” 

Yandow said.

The new label is “PR,” meaning the food contains at least 7 grams of protein per serving.

“That doesn’t mean that something that doesn’t have the protein icon can’t be a good source of protein,” Yandow said. “Say a serving size has 6 (grams), but people are eating double a serving of whatever it may be, they’re still getting 12 grams of protein, so it’s a little bit of a caveat in that sense. … You can still be getting protein from foods that don’t have the icon.”

Yandow said she thinks the change comes from more college students seeking out sources of protein.

The label would be beneficial to students with any kind of diet, Yandow said, as she always recommends students to put protein on their plates. She said the label might be especially important for athletes or students following a vegetarian or vegan diet who don’t get protein from meat and eggs.

“CF” stands for climate-friendly, for recipes with agricultural and ingredient processing impacts lower than 70% as assessed by the sustainable food rating company HowGood. HowGood uses crop- and location-specific data to calculate the impact of processing ingredients. This label also sometimes appears as a globe.

“AG” stands for avoiding gluten, which means food is made without gluten-containing ingredients.

“We can’t say that we’re providing gluten-free food because that term means we’ve done rigorous testing,” Yandow said. “We can’t guarantee there’s no cross-contamination, just because we do work with gluten-free products. However, the products we do label ‘avoiding gluten’ we’ve done our absolute very best to prevent any cross-contamination, cross-contact.”

The “AG” label and other gluten warnings have allowed first-year student Anna Myers to bring treats to first-year Selma Deisz, her roommate who can’t have gluten. Myers and Deisz are also both athletes — Myers plays lacrosse and Deisz basketball — so a protein label is helpful as well.

“It’s easy for me to know what I can eat,” Deisz said.

The “V” label stands for vegetarian, containing no meat, poultry, fish or seafood, and “VG” stands for vegan, containing no animal products.

Provided by Sarah Yandow

Both Clinton and the Sundowner use “callouts” — color-coded cards that describe the food in more detail. Besides the same messages that the letter icons convey, they read “Made from scratch” and “Good source of protein.”

The most recent addition to Clinton was a plant milk station from Uproot, a company based in Brooklyn, New York providing plant milk dispensers. The options are oat milk, soy milk and chocolate pea milk.

Among other changes, Chartwells and College Auxiliary services collaborated with Casella Waste Management services to bring pre- and post-waste composting to all dining locations on campus.

Chartwells adjusts its food offerings every semester to add variety and new limited-time offers while preserving student favorites and staples. Information about daily food offerings at every dining venue can be found on

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