Health group to tackle food labels, insurance cards, smoking

by Sarah Nienaber

The Student Health Advisory Committee chose to tackle issues with nutritional labeling, proof of insurance and a smoke-free campus at the University of Minnesota this year.
Many of the topics are continued from last year, said Lauren Beach, a member of the committee, which represents a voice for student health.
Food labeling, or the placement of caloric and nutritional information near or on the item being sold or served, has been at the forefront for this yearâÄôs committee. Last month, members sent University Dining Services a resolution to post caloric information on menu boards.
David Golden, the groupâÄôs adviser, said UDS has been âÄúvery receptiveâÄù to the idea during meetings with the committee.
SHAC is also advising Boynton Health Service on how the student health benefit plan will be affected by the Health Care Reform Act.
The group is advocating a hard waiver rule as well, where students must provide a hard-copy proof of insurance rather than just an electronic confirmation during registration, Beach said. The committee hopes this would result in more students taking advantage of the student health benefits plan, according to the committee.
The third âÄî and longest standing âÄî issue for SHAC has been the initiative for a smoke-free campus âÄî which has been in the works since spring 2008. The campus is currently smoke-free within 25 feet of buildings.
 The committee is giving a resolution to the NCAA urging them to adopt a resolution prohibiting schools which are not entirely smoke-free from hosting championship events, Beach said. âÄúSo thatâÄôs kind of a creative approach.âÄù
This comes after University President Bob Bruininks failed to address a petition to go smoke-free. SHAC hopes athletics and market forces will pressure the University to help get the initiative passed.
The North Central College Health Organization may endorse the resolution, Golden said, and SHAC is looking for additional endorsement from the American College Health Association.
Golden and SHAC said they believe it would be beneficial for the UniversityâÄôs current administration to pass the smoke-free initiative. But if that doesnâÄôt happen, they hope to work with incoming administration on the issue.
With the transition to a new University president, Beach said she hopes communication regarding policy changes will become clearer.
âÄúIt would be great if there could be more transparency and public comment on some of these issues,âÄù she said.
Another member of SHAC, Emelia Ndely, said this yearâÄôs group is off to a good start.
SHAC has been in contact with representatives from affiliated organizations who have sat in on some of their meetings to âÄúanswer a few questions, clarify things and give their opinion on the issues that weâÄôre addressing,âÄù Ndely said.
Nationwide, campus health groups like SHAC are dealing with a variety of issues. The University of Georgia advisory committee is working with the rise of their student health fee and is promoting a free HPV clinic, flu shots and the value of sleep.
The University of Georgia is currently taking a look at implementing its own smoke-free campus policy, which would include members going around campus with smoking cessation information for students, said Liz Rachum, SHAC adviser at the University of Georgia.
She said a SHAC-endorsed petition for a smoke-free campus was sent to the schoolâÄôs president is now awaiting approval.