Sodexo creates calorie counter

In an effort to make students more conscious about what they are putting into their bodies, Stevenson High School is in the process of constructing the Sodexo Nutrition Calculator to give students a better understanding of the food they are eating during the school day. Stevenson is adopting this calculator as a way for students to check the nutrition facts and add up the calories of their school meals.

Sodexo’s goal in creating the calculator is to give students the opportunity to be healthier in the choices they make when buying food. Currently, there is only a basic calculator online, that lists everything across all Sodexo outlets, not just what is sold at Stevenson. The official calculator will be specific to Stevenson’s food choices.

‘SodexoMyWay’ is a general, global website that is customized to Stevenson, and students can use the resources available on the website with regards to nutrition, according to Habib Osman, general manager of Sodexo.

Despite the calculator being online for everyone to use many students are still unaware of this resource. “If they’re aware of it, then some students might look at it for nutritional information,” said health teacher Jill Lipman. “More and more students are tracking what they eat using apps on their phone.”

The calculator comes in response to the trend of nutritional apps. Sodexo is working on an app as well as the website for students to use in the future. They also aim to advertise their calculator online through the Stevenson website and Facebook.

“It’s about using social media to spread the message and making things convenient for the students.” Osman said.

Online access to nutrition information allows students to make more educated eating decisions at their own convenience. In turn, Sodexo is able to promote their healthier food options.

“Our food is more made to order, with more fresh ingredients,” said executive chef Joel Meyers. “We’ve noticed an increase in the number of students buying lunch since the changes we made.”

Sodexo is optimistic that this calculator will change students’ view on food. Many students don’t buy lunch because they are under the impression that school lunches are unhealthy, says Deanna Feiger ’17. On the other hand, Sodexo believes that their food is nutritious.

“We have a lot of healthy choices available to everybody, it’s our responsibility to provide the resource needed for everybody to educate themselves to make better choices,” Osman said.

While Sodexo still offers menu items like fries and hamburgers, they also offer salads and fruit. Despite Sodexo’s enthusiasm to promote healthy foods, this calculator may not be put to use by many students.

“People I know wouldn’t take the time to use it,” said Feiger. “I think if it’s more advertised people may begin to use it.”
Feiger is not alone in her belief. Teachers are also skeptical if the calculator will impact students’ eating habits. Most believe that it will require much more advertising to make any difference.

“I don’t know if it will change what people are buying,” Lipman said.

Though the calculator is well intentioned, Feiger doesn’t think it will be effective. Feiger proposed as alternative option to relay nutrition facts directly on a menu.

“I think if they have the calories next to [the food] on the menu, then people will be more aware because they’ll see it right there,” she said.

The calculator is still in the planning process and Sodexo intends to spend more time and effort advertising it.
“The Management team is always available to answer questions regarding nutrition, so people will have the option to make better choices,” Osman said.