Cultivating interest: Housing and Dining rolls out new menu program

Kansas State students eat in Derby Dining Center in Manhattan, Kan. on Oct. 5, 2017. (Photo by April Aranda | Collegian Media Group)

Cultivate You is the name of a new menu program Housing and Dining Services started this year to help students try new foods in the dining halls and learn more about healthy eating at Kansas State.

Kelly Whitehair, administrative dietitian, said the Cultivate You program came about from looking at another program from the Culinary Institute of America called Menus of Change. Housing and Dining liked some of the philosophies of Menus of Change, so they decided to create their own expanded version of the program.

“We have over 10,000 recipes that this program allows us to use, especially some of the tons of international recipes that we have had for years,” Whitehair said.

This led to the creation of Cultivate You, which replaced the Change Up Thursdays in the K-State dining halls. The Cultivate You menu items can be found in each of the dining halls: in Derby, it’s on the classics line; in Kramer, it’s on the plate serving line; and in Van Zile, it’s on the pizza serving line.

“This program lets me hit that niche of students that love these new options,” Whitehair said.

These recipes are looked through and tested out with Jeffery Maiden, Housing and Dining food service manager and senior in modern languages. Maiden said they are trying to give the students a chance to try some new things that are healthier and more filling.

“It’s difficult to find the balance between the trendy foods that are also healthy and filling, but Cultivate You helps bring it all together,” Maiden said.

Cultivate You is also an educational program. Whitehair said the program’s main principles are wellness, community and sustainability. Each month, they form a theme around one of these main principles. Maiden puts on an interactive demo to help interact with and educate the students and guests on cooking unique foods.

This month’s theme is Hydration Station, which shows how important water is to our daily lives. Maiden said he has created some exciting water infusions rolling out this month that students can find at the dining halls.

Maiden said he is excited about what he will show at his demo at the end of this month. November’s theme, Exclusively Kansas, will focus on the sustainability aspect of the program. He said he wants to show some meals that are made with ingredients specifically from Kansas.

“I enjoy these demos,” Maiden said. “It gives me more interaction with the students along with showing that it’s not just serving food. It emphasizes education and healthier lifestyle options.”