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Meatless Monday Relaunch at Johns Hopkins University

By: Alana Ridge

Thanks to great partners like Bon Appétit Management Company, Johns Hopkins University Dining Services is able to bring fresh foods to students every day. In fact, Johns Hopkins was able to exceed the Real Food Challenge goal of serving more real food. Read more about Johns Hopkins commitment to the Real Food Challenge here.

While Meatless Monday has been on campus for years, it was time for a refresh. In September 2014, Jeff Vigilante arrived on campus as Bon Appétit’s new marketing manager for Johns Hopkins University. He brings with him more than 25 years in the food service, marketing, and hospitality industry. Jeff suggested relaunching Meatless Monday during March to celebrate nutrition month and enlisted the expertise of centers across Johns Hopkins to collaborate on the initiative. JHU Center for Health Education and Wellness (CHEW), The Lerner Center for Public Health Promotion, JHU Dining Services, and the Center for a Livable Future all played a part in the planning.

Putting a fun, fresh face on the campaign was just the thing it needed. Each year, 1,300+ first-year students arrive on campus from across the country and around the globe. It’s a new crop with fertile minds. Sharing the Meatless Monday campaign with these busy students can be a challenge so integrating it into their daily activity is key. Making it fun is important, too. As all have to participate in a dining plan, the main dining hall provides a great opportunity to reach a wide audience.

As some of you on the East Coast may have experienced, winter weather was not always working in our favor. We planned the relaunch for March 9, but not all of our materials were ready due to a snowstorm. Solution? Forge ahead with what we had at the ready; then, celebrate again on March 23 when we had all the signage and the students returned from spring break.

At the dining hall entrance on March 9, students were greeted by CLF staff, Meatless Monday signage, and a list of featured plant-based menu items for the day. An information table was set up just past the entrance for students to ask questions and pick up some swag while learning more about the campaign. Every food station had clearly marked Meatless Monday items for students to choose along with items regularly available. Several students stopped by to thank us for all the vegetarian and vegan options. Others asked why we were promoting Meatless Monday. This provided an opportunity to highlight environmental issues and social justice issues in addition to sharing health reasons for eating a more plant-forward diet. We even had staff from the Fresh Food Café, Johns Hopkins Sustainability Network, and Dining Services join in the fun. Take a look at CLF Meatless Monday on facebook for more pics from both days. You’ll notice that we had a cutout of our barnyard friends for students to snap pics and share on social media.

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