Texas State University nutrition undergrads, Colton Scott and Taylor McCartney, spent the summer of 2017 performing a data analysis under Lindsey Rambo Menge. Lindsey is a graduate student in the MS in Human Nutrition, and a graduate research assistant with the Texas State University employee wellness program, WellCats. Lindsey’s thesis, conducted under the supervision of Dr. Sylvia Crixell, is dedicated to assessing the food environment for faculty and staff at university-led events.
Scott and McCartney assisted in evaluating the types of foods offered at university-funded events over the past year. This research required the analyses of menus and receipts for each event. Receipts were collected for every department and the types of food were categorized. Six categories of foods were examined, including beverages, breakfast, lunch, appetizers, dinner, and desserts. Within each category were subcategories including sugar sweetened beverages, whole grains, lean or high-fat proteins, vegetables, and fruit. Panera Bread and Jason’s Deli are examples of restaurants Texas State used to cater these university events.
Another aspect of Lindsey’s research involves investigating factors that influence what foods are ordered for catered events. For this work, she developed and validated a survey through dissemination to administrative assistants who order food. The survey included rating scales and open-ended questions and addressed food preferences, university policies, budget considerations, nutrition, and convenience.
The results of these projects will be used to support intervention and education; which will comprise a thesis project for JR Oliver, another graduate student in nutrition working with Dr. Crixell. Once the intervention is completed, there will be a final round of data collection to assess the impact on the food offered at university events for faculty and staff.
Scott and McCartney both plan to promote wellness in their future endeavors. “I plan on pursuing a master’s in public health, so this research was a perfect fit,” Scott said. McCartney has other plans, including “going back for my master’s here and also applying for a dietetic internship the following Fall (2018). I would ideally like to do corporate wellness.” McCartney also said “It was cool to know I played a small role in helping better the food environment at Texas State.”