For many college students, maintaining a healthy lifestyle may seem like a burden on time and finances, but Fresno State is trying to change that mindset with its “Healthy Campus Week” campaign, held last week.
The weeklong campaign exposed students to healthy opportunities provided by the university and the community.
To kickoff the events, students dressed as a bunch of grapes and a banana walked around campus in search for students. If a student posted their photo to social media with the hashtag “Healthy Campus,” they would be entered into a drawing to win a $100 Target gift card.
Boxes of free oranges, apples and bananas were made available to the campus community throughout the week also.
A wellness fair last Wednesday was held outside of the University Student Union. Organizations such as Health Paws, Diabetes Coalition, Associated Students, Inc. and the Fresno State Student Cupboard hosted booths with information on student wellness.
In addition to the booths, Hunger U, a traveling food security mobile exhibit, encouraged students to take the Hunger U challenge: a six-question survey about food security. For each student who completed the quiz, Hunger U donated a meal in their name to the university Student Cupboard.
Within the first three hours, Hunger U spoke with nearly 100 students, said Lina Walz-Salvador, Hunger U manager.
“It’s been really great,” Walz-Salvador said. “I think there are a lot of students that don’t know that there are colleagues of theirs and other students that are food insecure.”
Food insecurity refers to the inaccessibility of nutritious, quality foods like fruits and vegetables, she said.
“Having access to it on campus is a super, super awesome thing,” Walz-Salvador said in reference to the Student Cupboard.
The Hunger U reaches out to organizations on and off campus to help raise awareness of food insecurity, she said.
“This happens closer than you think,” Walz-Salvador said. “It could be your neighbor. It could be the person sitting next to you in class. So that’s why we feel it’s important for students to know.”
Gurmandeep Bal, a junior majoring in liberal studies, said she was unaware of the Student Cupboard. She learned about it through a friend last semester.
“I thought it was pretty neat to have one that’s able to help students that are really struggling, especially when we have tuition fees and so much stuff to pay for,” Bal said.
Bal, who took the challenge with friend and fellow liberal studies classmate Monica Sepulveda, saw the Hunger U van as it set up and decided to check it out.
“It makes us realize that there are people out there that are hungry,” she said.
Sepulveda said she appreciated accessibility to a Student Cupboard because everyone on campus gets the opportunity to eat something good and healthy.
“I think we take for granted that you always have food available, like healthy food available,” Sepulveda said.
She said she met someone at the event who said his only food option is chips.
“We think of that as a snack, but for some people that’s their meal,” she said.
The Student Cupboard provides an alternative to fast food by supplying ingredients to make a real meal at home, Sepulveda said.
On Sept. 28, Poverello House, a local nonprofit organization that provides resources and services to community members in need, set up a van for the campus community to learn more about food insecurity and to pick up free bowls of pasta.
The pasta was made by Crystal Durham, kitchen manager at Poverello House. Her goal was to showcase a meal that can be made with basic ingredients, giving students the confidence to make food they want and also tastes good.
“[The pasta’s] just got tomato sauce, noodles, zucchini and bell peppers and some spices,” Durham said. “The recipe that I supply with it also details that you can use any type of pasta; you can use any type of vegetables; basically anything they have available to students.”
All it took was for Durham to shout “free food” to get students to run over. Many students were surprised at how simple the recipe was to recreate, she said.
“Hopefully it inspires people to start cooking for themselves, something a little more nutritious than something like grabbing Subway,” Durham said.
The campaign concluded on Friday with a free Zumba class on the lawn outside the Kennel Bookstore. Students picked up a T-shirt and move along with their friends under the direction of Zumba instructor Gianna McCurry.
“It was really cool,” McCurry said. “Everybody’s energy was really high which was a lot of fun. It’s always a good time, especially with Zumba because you don’t have to do like 20 burpees. You can just kind of move around, and you don’t have to worry about getting anything right.”
McCurry a women’s studies major and dance minor at Fresno State has been teaching Zumba for two years. The afternoon class included roughly six songs and a cool down.
“I think [Healthy Campus Week] is really important because as a student, and a lot of the students that I know, work while going to school, so it’s hard to find time to take care of yourself, even if that means eating an apple or going for a walk,” McCurry said.
Healthy Campus Week provided a good opportunity to get students in the right direction of personal well-being, she said.
As someone who has a busy schedule, McCurry said she takes advantage of the Student Recreation Center to exercise and the Student Cupboard to supply some of her meals when money is tight. And while McCurry is vegan, she said the cupboard still has options for her.
The bookstore lawn was filled with laughs and cheers as students, faculty and staff members got into the groove alongside Healthy Campus Week mascot, Roxy the T-Rex.
Students like Megan Amon and Marissa Milan, both nursing majors, joined in on the fun after seeing advertisements around campus and on social media.
Milan, who had heard of Zumba but never participated before, decided to give it a try.
“I didn’t think I’d like it at first, but it’s actually kind of fun and it got me sweating,” she said.
Milan said she appreciates the campaign because it made her more aware of the resources available on campus.
“Sometimes people think they have to pay for it when it’s free for students,” Milan said. “I think it’s important if [Fresno State] stresses costs.”
Amon said the event was a great way to get people involved in exercise in a fun way.
“A lot of the current diseases and current conditions that people have are preventable through being healthier, so I think this is something America needs to work on as a nation,” Amon said.
A reference to Gurmandeep Bal was corrected from “he” to “she.”