Chartwells, the UofA’s dining service provider, is working to incorporate healthier options for on-campus students.
Chartwells opened Where the Wild Greens AR where Olympus Greek Grill used to be in Founder’s Hall. The new salad bar allows customers to build their own salad or grain bowl with lettuce that is grown locally at Freight Farm on campus.
“The initial driver for the concept was the popularity of over-the-top entrée salads where all ingredients are ‘clean’ and unprocessed,” said Kim Johnson, marketing director for Chartwells at the UofA, via email.
Rosemary Delp, a psychology freshman, said she hopes Chartwells will introduce healthier options with less fried meats and faster options outside the dining halls.
Delp said that she has 15 minutes between classes without a lunch break. She said she thinks to-go options outside dining halls might be easier for college students like her who are pressed for time.
Chartwells heard students like Delp, who want to find faster and healthier options on campus.
“Students told us last year in our On-site Insight focus groups that they were interested in eating (in a healthy) way,” Johnson said.
Johnson said the idea for Where the Wild Greens AR came from the lack of attention the locally-grown lettuce Chartwells distributed in the dining halls last school year got. This time around, students can find information about the lettuce and how it is grown around the salad bar.
“Much of the menu is salad or grain-based and can be enjoyed by students who choose to avoid gluten,” Johnson said.
In addition, Ashley Meek, director of nutrition and wellness for Chartwells at the UofA, said the options the restaurant offer eliminate eight common allergens: eggs, wheat, fish, shellfish, milk, nuts, tree nuts and soy.
“The curried carrot hummus and beet ricotta hummus are two ingredients I recommend trying. Both make your bowl more nutritious and visually appealing,” Meek said, noting that the beet ricotta hummus is bright pink.
In following with the visually appealing theme, a sticker with “wild + green” surrounding a circle was placed on the floor by the counter for customers who want to photograph their salads.
Talia Isaacson, a sophomore English major and occasional vegetarian, was surprised to find an option like Where the Wild Greens AR on campus.
“That was one of the best salad bars I’ve ever been to,” she said.
Brittany Watts, a senior industrial engineering major, said she is trying to eat healthier and chose a greens and grains bowl with barley and roasted mushrooms after being pushed by her friend who interns at Freight Farm where most of the greens are grown. Watts said she spent the summer eating healthy options and thought she would miss having those choices when she returned to campus. She said the new option on campus was comparable to the Instagram-worthy salad bowls she had grown used to. She was allowed to taste the homemade hummus before ordering, she said.
“Mostly I don’t like hummus, but I tried this before I got it and really liked it,” she said.
Where the Wild Greens AR’s meal trade hours are 6 - 9 p.m. seven days a week.
Chartwells has also added a new breakfast option in Brough Commons. Brough A-Go-Go will now be open from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. and will offer breakfast bowls, burritos, paninis and muffins. Brough A-Go-Go allows students to meal trade fast and has healthy options to go. The options offered will rotate biweekly, Johnson said.
Rob Stagni, the Arkansas Union director, said the union and Chartwells will be working on renovating and expanding the Union Food Court next summer.
“It should open up an opportunity to bring in maybe one or two food service vendors instead of what is there right now and should also give us the opportunity to maybe change up or expand the things that are currently there,” Stagni said.
One of the preliminary goals of the project is to expand Chick-fil-A to include breakfast options, he said.