In collaboration with Northern Michigan University’s Animal Club and the Humane Society of the United States, Northern Michigan University signed the Forward Food Pledge and has committed to increasing its plant-based offerings each year through 2024. NMU has made this commitment to ensure that all students have access to healthy, sustainable and inclusive foods.

Institutions that sign the Forward Food Pledge commit to adding more plant-based options each year. By the end of 2024, Northern Michigan University’s plant-based menu entrées will represent 30% of the items offered to dining customers. Northern Michigan University will also provide data to the Humane Society of the United States, a collaborator with Forward Food, to track its progress reaching annual milestones.

“One way of eating a healthier diet is by increasing your consumption of plant-based proteins, which can provide you with heart healthy soluble and insoluble fiber, low saturated fat, no cholesterol, and lower sodium options,” said Brett Peterson, registered dietician at NMU. “If you look at your grandparents and/or parents, many of them don't eat like they did as young adults and either had to change or simply changed as they became more educated on healthier eating habits. By starting this now, we will be far ahead of the game in preventing many chronic diseases associated with poor dietary habits.”

Northern Michigan University Dining has been making menu changes and hosted an event, the Peas on Earth Challenge, promoting and educating their campus about plant-based offerings. Olivia Lubig, president of the NMU Animal Club, said: “Bringing the Humane Society of the United States on board to help us, along with our other NMU efforts illustrates how much our school truly cares about sustainability. We are headed in the right direction by making delicious plant-based options more accessible to students."

“It is encouraging to see an institution really take control and lean into this initiative,” said Nathan Alexander, food service innovation coordinator with the Humane Society of the United States. “Northern Michigan University is well-aware that plant-based dining is here to stay and in signing the Forward Food Pledge, NMU leadership is taking important steps for the health of students and to combat climate change.”

As a result of signing the Forward Food Pledge, Northern Michigan University now has access to the Humane Society of the United States’ entire toolkit of free resources, including ongoing consultation and support, menu evaluation, chef-led, customized in-person and virtual trainings and assistance with environmental impact assessments.

"NMU Dining is proud to continue our already successful relationship with Forward Food. The resources and trainings provided by Forward Food have been second to none and our students are already experiencing the additional plant-based options that have been inspired by the collaboration,” said Paul Schoonveld, director of dining at Northern Michigan University. “We are always focused on serving the students of NMU to the best of our ability and one of the ways we do this is by taking full advantage of local and national opportunities – like working with the Humane Society of the United States - that enhance our food and services and provide students the types of sustainable food options they desire."

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