[Posted September 24, 2014] Smoothies are great, but there is nothing smooth about getting students to consume more fruits and vegetables. Uni teacher (and head volleyball coach) Kerri Eich of the School of Health and Environmental Sciences wanted to change that.
Pictured above: The Uni “Blast Bar” smoothie assembly line (Photo courtesy Kerri Eich/Uni and NutriBullet)
In 2013, Eich’s first-period health class undertook a 12-week study on the impact of adding more (or simply introducing) fruits and vegetables to student diets. In cooperation with NutriBullet, makers of a specialized blender set called the Nutrition Extraction System, students created a daily half-fruit, half-vegetable breakfast “blast” (a smoothie) they downed on the spot. The program was developed in conjunction with registered dietician Sarah Lefkowitz.
“We had nurses measure student’s blood cholesterol, blood sugar, body mass index, and other measures at the beginning and the end of our three-month study,” said Eich. The changes were positive and significant, including noticeable weight loss, better cholesterol levels and changes in eating habits that emphasized green vegetables and fruit on a daily basis.
NutriBullet was so enthused about the concept that it not only provided “MagicBullet” blenders to the participating students, but also created a start-to-finish documentary called “The Uni Project.”
The 39-minute documentary is available online, but will also be screened at a free premiere event on campus at the Stivelman Theater on Monday, October 6.
Just as in the classroom, a “Blast Bar” to create the same smoothies as the students did, will be available as a warm-up to the film at 5:30 p.m., and all attendees will be treated to a catered dinner in the Uni Grove, catered by Uni’s Food Science Students, Chef David Linville, and his team.
The film, Blast Bar and dinner are free, but in order to plan for enough food for everyone attending, tickets are required. You can obtain tickets by clicking here. Parking will be available at on-campus lots off of Barrington Avenue, as well as ample street parking in the area.
Donations to Uni’s School of Health & Environmental Sciences are welcomed, of course, but the remarkable change among the students in their attitudes about food through this private-public partnership is the true payoff.
Eich noted that “because of Uni’s efforts, five other schools will have the opportunity to win $10,000 [in fresh produce and equipment] to support their efforts to try the project at their school. The contest is open to any school with a November 1st deadline.” But regardless of which schools participate next, it will always be known as “The Uni Project.”