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Enjoy Magazine

Culinary Crusader

03/19/2013 09:53AM ● By anonymous

Sadie Roy Battles Obesity, Boredom and Waste at Chartwells

Story by Amber Galusha Photos by Betsy Erickson

She’s sweet, she’s witty and she’s dedicated to making a difference in the lives of more than 500 hungry students who converge on her dining hall three times a day. Meet Sadie Roy, director of food services at Simpson University.

A trained chef and certified nutrition and wellness consultant, Roy creates menus based on the Chartwells Eat, Learn, Live philosophy. Using a hip and holistic approach, Roy offers a dining experience that’s not only planet conscious, but nutritious and delicious.

Having grown up Seventh-day Adventist, Roy is no stranger to a strict diet. Now raising two boys of her own, she sees the importance of compromise in the kitchen. To keep students, faculty, staff and visitors happy and well-fed seven days a week, Roy offers healthy choices as well as comfort food.

Next to the Chartwells hamburger station is a colorful vegetable platter. When it comes to students’ food choices, she says, “Sometimes they just want to see the healthy option. They don’t necessarily want to eat it, but they want to know it’s there. If they’re being good that day, they can choose the veggies. If they want a free day and want to eat fries, they can.”

As a graduate student of public health, Roy understands the impact that policies can have on people, animals and the planet. “Compass Group, the company I work for, is the largest food management company in the world, so when they do something, it’s big,” she says. A couple of years ago, as part of a company-wide commitment, they only served sustainable seafood. “When you do that at more than 1,000 schools, it makes an impact globally. Of course, the joke is, now all I can get is cod and pollock.”

Embracing forward-thinking initiatives like Shasta County Public Health’s “Rethink Your Drink” campaign, Roy removed sugar-filled sodas from the beverage bar and replaced them with a fruit-infused water station. Next to the dispensers is a sign that highlights the benefits of drinking plenty of water.

As a nod to the national Meatless Monday movement, her “Red Plate Special,” an ever-changing dish, is meat-free on Mondays. For her carnivorous diners who turn up their noses at the meatless dish, Roy weaves in comic relief to subtly reinforce the advantages of choosing a healthier, more sustainable diet. She says, “I posted a cartoon of a cow, pig and chicken that says, ‘Now we get Mondays off, too.’”

Roy still serves a variety of antibiotic-reduced meats throughout the remainder of the week and does a meat carving station on Thursdays. Laughing, she says, “They might riot if I went totally meatless.”

She uses cage-free eggs and serves rBGH-free milk. She sources local organic produce when possible. And she’s gone trayless, which has multiple benefits. “It reduces how much food people can take and it reduces waste,” she says. Roy points out that it also decreases water and chemical use, and conserves energy.

Always accommodating, Roy offers alternatives for those with dietary restrictions. Students with celiac disease, or gluten intolerance, have access to gluten-free bread that Roy bakes in a self-contained bread machine. She also offers rice noodles in place of pasta and corn tortillas instead of flour.

To battle boredom and add culture to the university’s dining scene, Roy puts on “monotony breakers” or special dinners designed to broaden students’ culinary horizons.

Roy has set up a “mini” Chef at the Market – something she participates in when Redding’s Saturday Farmers Market is in full swing, and has re-created a Pike Place fish market complete with fish throwing. “I had 10-pound salmons donated, cleared space in the lower level and put plastic down,” she says. She can laugh about the messy scene now, but looking back she says, “Wow! It was fun. Still, I’m only doing that once.”

This month, Roy will spice things up with a Fat Tuesday feast. Her creative and mindful menu is sure to please anyone who attends, and for added fun, she plans to bring in a photo booth for the event.

Between directing 30 employees, supervising Simpson’s coffee shop (The Bean Scene), filling bellies with sustenance and looking out for Mother Earth, Roy doesn’t have much down time. With the cheerful and graceful demeanor Roy is known for, she says, “Encouraging a wellness throughout life and limiting disabilities and obesity are really important to me... I’m busy, but it’s worth it.”