At Chatham University, the days of stereotypical college cafeteria foods such as heavy, calorie-laden dishes, same-old-same-old choices, and maybe worst of all, prepackaged meals grabbed on the go—are gone. Thanks to Parkhurst Dining, Chatham’s food provider, the focus is on healthy and delicious meals that incorporate a commitment to sustainability and locally sourced foods. Parkhurst Dining is a division of Eat’n Park and serves colleges, universities and corporations.
“We are a family friendly, locally owned company that embraces sustainability and the environment and sourcing our foods and food products locally, whenever possible,” explained General Manager Courtney Blood.
The company’s Forged Partner program creates partnerships with local farmers and food makers to serve students the best and freshest meals. “For example, we use Parma Sausage products which comes from our own backyard,” said Blood.
Chatham University encompasses three campuses in Shadyside, East Side, and the Eden Hall campus in Richland Township. The Eden Hall food services program sells produce and food products from its campus, including honey, maple syrup and herb plants, and Parkhurst has been able to incorporate some of these foods into its offerings.
Taking their commitment to healthy eating and availability of local food sources one step further, Parkhurst and Chatham are going to begin offering food kits to the community. The kits will be offered at both the Shadyside and Eden Hall campuses.
“As a busy mom, I know how hard it can be to put meals on the table every day that are healthy and quick. We love the idea of meal kits to help take the prep work out of it and get a healthy meal prepared in 30 minutes,” said Blood.
The meal kits will become available beginning in mid-August with varying options including gluten-free, vegan, vegetarian, and meat lovers.
“We will have what could be considered a plated meal; an entree and two sides with choices,” said Blood, adding that there will also be add-ons available.”
Customers can choose from a menu, and each kit will come with ideas to extend the meals.
“For example, the meal may be pulled pork with beans, but then we will have a recipe to make carnitas with leftover pork,” said Blood.
The dining services team offered a Mother’s Day meal kit in May with a special video available that featured Blood’s oldest daughter, Alyse, 9, preparing chocolate chip pancakes. Future plans include making videos and QR code directions and ideas to accompany the meal kits.
This isn’t the first time that Chatham has invited the public to take part in their food services program. Throughout the summer they offer Farm to Fork meals at the Eden Hall Campus on Thursdays with a farm market-type atmosphere. They plan to continue the program one Thursday a month through November.
Blood is no stranger to the food service industry. She started her career 25 years ago as a young teen, when she worked at a concession stand at a local pool while growing up in Shaler. She and her family now reside in Richland Township.
“My grandfather also worked in the food service industry so you can say it is in my blood,” she said.
She hopes that offering healthy meal kits will help families develop their own healthy food routines with less stress. “We want to take the guesswork out of mealtime,” she said. “We want to make your life easier in a healthy way and in a way that your kids will like.”
For more information about Parkhurst Dining and Chatham’s new food kits, visit www.chathamdining.catertrax.com, call 412-365-1659 or email Parkhurst@chatham.edu.