New Wellness Kitchen: Making the Calories Count

Published: August 27, 2014
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Auburn University students have a new dining option this fall with the opening of the new Wellness Kitchen, a $6.6 million facility located just north of the Athletics Complex parking deck, across the street from the South Donahue Residence Hall.

"The menu is designed to offer the maximum nutritional benefit per calorie consumed," said Glenn Loughridge, director of campus dining. "It's not about counting calories, it's about making the calories count."

The Wellness Kitchen offers an unlimited buffet, featuring make-to-order action stations, pizza oven, carving station for beef, pork or poultry, a hot line with fresh meats and vegetables, salad bar and fresh fruit smoothie station. In addition, the facility contains the university's first gluten- and allergen-free prep area to accommodate those with special dietary needs.

Loughridge says the new dining building is open to all students and will be used by student-athletes for their training table programs. Menu choices are available for student-athletes to aid in the preparation for and recovery from athletic competition, injury prevention and immune system support, while meeting other dietary needs.

The menu, created by Auburn's sports dietician, Scott Sehnert, and Tiger Dining's executive chef, Patrick Smallen, offers foods based on recipes that are re-imagined to remove empty calories and avoid processed foods.

"Local, organic produce is preferred and used as much as possible," Loughridge said. "For protein, leaner cuts of meat or poultry will replace those with higher fat content. Some vegetarian options will be served as well. The facility is unique in that the kitchen is in the front of the house instead of the back, so that meals are prepared in full view of the customer."

An initial allotment of meal plans sold out on the first day offered, July 15, and a waiting list is available on the Wellness Kitchen website, which also has details on meal plan options and prices.

A second group of meal plans will be offered Sept. 30 for those on the waiting list and possibly for new registrants, based on capacity experienced in the opening weeks. Another offering is possible late in the semester, Loughridge said.

"We want to make sure we have enough space, so we will monitor the capacity and offer more plans if space permits," Loughridge said. "The most important thing is that we want everyone to have a great experience."

Students without Wellness Kitchen meal plans can eat at the facility as space permits, by using their Tiger Dining Card's declining balance or by paying cash. Retail prices are $8.99 for breakfast, $9.99 for lunch and $17.99 for dinner. Auburn faculty and staff are also welcome, Loughridge said.

The facility has a main dining area with 214 seats and a meeting room that will seat approximately 50 people. An outside eating area has 80 seats.

"We anticipate plenty of space at breakfast and lunch, but we may be full at dinner," Loughridge said. "We will accommodate our meal plan holders first, but we welcome others to dine with us."

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