Restaurants across campus are highlighting healthy eating options with ¡Por Vida! labeled foods. The program’s stamp of approval signifies which foods meet their rigorous standards for the promotion of health and wellness.
“It started out as a restaurant recognition program put forth by the city of San Antonio,” said Anna Macnak, ¡Por Vida!’s registered dietitian nutritionist. “This came about as a collaborative approach to offering, labeling and promoting the healthiest options on a restaurant’s menu.”
¡Por Vida! has set nutritional requirements that must be met before they can endorse food items with their logo. The standards listed on their website dictate that meals must have less than 700 calories, 8 grams of saturated fat, 12 grams of added sugar and 750 mg of sodium without being fried or using hydrogenated or partially-hydrogenated oils.
Mabee Dining Hall is one of the places that already has some certification from the program.
“In the dining hall we have the food ID names, and next to them are the ¡Por Vida! certifications,” Mabee’s executive chef Miguel Morales said. “Most of the recipes that we have in our books passed certification without any issues with ¡Por Vida!”
Certified foods will be found throughout Mabee during all hours of operation.
“Here at the dining hall, we have more ¡Por Vida! items than anywhere else,” Morales said. “We always have some in the main line. It could be the soup, it could be in the international area and maybe in the pizza.”
Collaboration between ¡Por Vida! and Trinity started with the Trinity Market’s co-founder and outreach coordinator, Hayley Sayrs. As a Trinity alumna, she outlined some of the issues that students face when deciding what to eat on campus.
“I thought it’d be really nice to have more transparency and labeling on campus for where students can find a healthy option,” Sayrs said. “We’re very stressed out, we don’t have a lot of time to choose things. So when you really structure the environment of what we can choose things from, you’re gonna really have a big influence on the choices that we make”.
The Trinity Market’s collaboration with ¡Por Vida! centers around the food truck vendors that serve food on campus at the market.
“Some of our vendors are already ¡Por Vida! certified, or in the process of becoming ¡Por Vida! certified because a big part of what we do is health and wellness,” Sayrs said. “So kind of thinking of the Trinity market as another place to eat on campus, but also having those vendors really take with them the idea of, “Well, I’m really thinking consciously about what I’m putting in this food for people to eat.”
The initiative also allows for the Trinity Market to help contribute local fruits and vegetables in food preparation.
“It’s more like another great healthy item because I know they’re not using a lot of chemicals,” Morales said. “It’s been produced in the San Antonio areas, so not just the healthy way but also helping the economy here with small farms.”
The partnership between Trinity and ¡Por Vida! hopes to expand into all campus food spots.
“We want to have an option labeled at every single place to eat on campus,” Sayrs said. “That raises some issues because places like Taco Taco don’t really have meals that fit into the ¡Por Vida! requirements. That’s a little bit concerning. We want to see a lot of these places come around to thinking more about what our healthy options should be.”