Menus of Change

& Menus of Change University Research Collaborative

UNT is a proud member of the Menus of Change University Research Collaborative, which is a part of the Menus of Change initiative.

Healthy, Sustainable

Delicious Food Choices

Menus of Change® is a ground-breaking leadership initiative launched in 2012 by The Culinary Institute of America and Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. It works to realize a long-term, practical vision integrating optimal nutrition and public health, environmental stewardship and restoration, and social responsibility concerns within the foodservice industry and the culinary profession.

Menus of Change University Research Collaborative logo
Cultivating the long-term wellbeing of people and planet one student, one meal at a time

The Menus of Change University Research Collaborative (MCURC) is a working group of scholars and campus dining leaders from invited colleges and universities interested in accelerating efforts to move American consumers—and college/university students, scholars and staff in particular—toward menus that integrate both health and sustainability imperatives.


The collaboration recognizes that a significant amount of energy for food systems transformation today is being driven by concerned university students and forward-looking faculty and administration and understands that university food systems hold considerable untapped potential to further catalyze existing efforts. MCURC is a network of 57 colleges and universities, and several other organizations, which together serve more than 750,000 meals each day, representing 15 billion meals over the course of their students’ lifetimes.

Champs salad with various toppings

Research Study: DISH

Delicious Impressions Support Healthy Eating

The University of North Texas was among five universities that participated in DISH, a groundbreaking, collaborative research study that measured diners’ vegetable intake for several months. Researchers found that emphasizing the tasty and enjoyable attributes of vegetables, rather than their health attributes, increased the number of people choosing to eat them. The DISH study is the first behavioral intervention of its kind to be replicated across multiple university dining halls across the country and the first peer-reviewed publication from the Menus of Change University Research Collaborative (MCURC). Results of the DISH study were published by the journal Psychological Science.

Principles of Our Healthy, Sustainable Menus

Foods and Ingredients

    1. Think produce first.
    2. Make whole, intact grains the new norm.
    3. Limit potatoes.
    4. Move nuts and legumes to the center of the plate.
    5. Choose healthier oils.
    6. Go “good fat,” not “low fat.”
    7. Serve more kinds of seafood, more often.
    8. Reimagine dairy in a supporting role.
    9. Use poultry and eggs in moderation.
    10. Serve less red meat, less often.
    11. Reduce added sugar.
    12. Cut the salt; rethink flavor development from the ground up.
    13. Substantially reduce sugary beverages; innovate replacements.
    14. Drink healthy: from water, coffee, and tea to, with caveats, beverage alcohol.

Menu Concepts and General Operations

    1. Buy fresh and seasonal, local and global.
    2. Reward better agricultural practices.
    3. Leverage globally-inspired, plant-forward culinary strategies.
    4. Focus on whole, minimally processed foods.
    5. Grow everyday options, while honoring special occasion traditions.
    6. Lead with menu messaging around flavor.
    7. Reduce portions, emphasizing calorie quality over quantity.
    8. Celebrate cultural diversity and discovery.
    9. Design health and sustainability into operations and dining spaces.
    10. Be transparent about sourcing and preparation.

Healthy, sustainable, plant-forward food choices:

Feature minimally-processed, slow-metabolizing plant-based foods.

Reduce the prominence of animal-based foods. Decrease purchases of red meat and prioritize fish and poultry, with dairy options and eggs playing a supporting role (if desired).

Include vegetarian and vegan choices.

Highlight fresh, seasonal, locally-produced foods; minimize added sugars and sweeteners and reduce sodium and unhealthy additives.

Emphasize healthy dietary patterns and a rich diversity of whole foods.

Celebrate cultural diversity and personal needs and preferences.

Begin with transparent ingredient sourcing that supports sustainable farming methods and fisheries.

Through food purchasing patterns, encourage innovation and sustainable practices in retail food and restaurant concepts to advance public health, social wellbeing, and our food system.

Helpful Definitions

Plant-forward is a style of cooking plant-based foods and reflects evidence-based principles of health and sustainability in culinary approaches.

Plant-based refers to ingredients and foods themselves, i.e., fruits and vegetables; whole grains; beans, other legumes, and soy foods; and nuts and seeds.

Vegetarian: Dishes or dietary patterns that do not contain meat, poultry, or fish but may, or may not, contain dairy, eggs, and/or honey.

Vegan: Dishes or dietary patterns that do not contain any ingredients that came from animals.

Flexitarian: Dietary patterns that are more focused on plant-sourced foods and much less reliant on meat—often following, for some or many meals, a vegetarian model—but that may occasionally include meat, as well as some poultry, fish, or dairy foods.