University of Pennsylvania Honored as Standout in Healthier Campus Initiative

Members of the Healthy Penn team

Some of the Healthy Penn team, from left to right: Assistant Director Fitness and Wellness Janna Rothschild; Bon Appétit Registered Dietitian Nutritionist Dan Connolly; Vice Provost of University Life Valarie Ena Swain-Cade McCoullum; Director of Campus Health Ashlee Halbritter; Undergraduate Assembly President Michael Krone; Executive Director of the Center for Public Health Initiatives and University of Pennsylvania Faculty-Senate Chair Jennifer Pinto-Martin; Graduate and Professional Student Assembly President Haley Pilgrim; and Vice President for Human Resources Jack Heuer

For the past three years, the University of Pennsylvania has worked to implement and execute 23 novel policies that improve nutrition, physical activity, sustainability, and overall wellness on the Philadelphia campus as part of its commitment to the Healthier Campus Initiative of the Partnership for a Healthier America (PHA).

Founded in 2010 in conjunction with then–First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! program, PHA is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization led by some of the nation’s most respected health and childhood obesity-prevention advocates. The PHA’s goal is for all young people to grow up free from obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and other conditions associated with excess weight.

The first Ivy League university to complete the Healthier Campus Initiative, Penn was honored by PHA at a ceremony in Chicago. “Penn community members have been highly collaborative and ardent partners in the focused effort to build an even healthier Penn campus community and culture,” said Dr. Valarie Ena Swain-Cade McCoullum, the Vice Provost for University Life, who signed the commitment to the partnership in 2015. “We are delighted that their superb and thoughtful work has been recognized by this important national award.”

Dan and President and CEO of the Partnership for a Healthier America Nancy E. Roman

Dan and President and CEO of the Partnership for a Healthier America Nancy E. Roman

Dr. Swain-Cade McCoullum praised Penn’s partners such as Bon Appétit Management Company and Penn Dining for helping the university achieve its goals, thanks to local food procurement, trayless dining, plant-based options at every meal, limited fried foods, healthier catering menus, and more.

Bon Appétit’s project manager for the Healthier Penn initiative, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist Dan Connolly, developed campus relationships extending far beyond the café walls, spurring numerous campus collaborations. He guest-lectured at nutrition classes at Penn’s School of Nursing and Penn’s School of Public Health, spoke at the Mid-Atlantic College Health Association conference, led a roundtable at the Partnership for a Healthier America annual summit, and developed a campus network of cross-marketing partners. He was honored to be asked to speak at the on-campus award ceremony before more than 1,000 Penn students, faculty, and staff on behalf of all the Bon Appétit chefs and managers who had taken up the challenge to innovate in the arena of wellness.

Submitted by Dan Connolly, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist