UNK Today | August 2014 - page 35

have students come in,” he
said. “I’ll prepare a dish from
a recipe. It’s usually something
that’s practical and sustainable
— something they can prepare
in their dorm rooms.”
Decker said his staff responds
to more than just menu prefer-
ences. Students are more par-
ticular about food sources and
request food grown in the area.
“Sustainability is very
important to our organization,”
he said. “We try to do as much
as locally as we can. We just
recently switched our coffee
to a sustainable, local coffee
roaster. We only use cage-
free eggs and we use RGBH
(recombinant bovine growth
hormone)-free milk.”
Decker feels following these
student requests is import-
ant for health considerations
as well as for following the
desires of students.
“They are much more
socially aware than generations
before,” he said. “They ask
questions about the food.”
Beyond preparing meals,
Decker said his staff helps to
educate students about food
through a program called Proj-
ect Clean Plate.
“We do it twice per semes-
ter,” he said. “This is a program
where we draw attention to the
amount of waste in our dining
room. Students will come in
and measure and track all of
the liquids and food that gets
thrown away over a two-day
period.”
Later in the semester, stu-
dents conduct another tracking.
“The goal is to waste less
food the second time around,”
the chef said. “In between those
two sessions, we do a lot of
awareness training.”
Decker said the organization
donates the difference between
the two amounts to area chari-
ties and food banks.
“I think that cooking and
providing a service definitely
includes education,” he said.
“That’s very important to us.”
When it comes to eating
and food preparation, Decker
keeps his goals simple and
direct: provide food that tastes
good but also is good for
you. “I know we have to have
a balance and a mix. We’re
dealing with students that like
fried food. We’re in Nebraska.
They like their beef. But I want
the students to understand that
it’s possible to live on a college
campus, to live in a dorm, to be
on a college meal plan and still
be healthy.”
Another program, Balanced
U, uses signs and programs to
encourage balanced eating. If
you’re going to have dessert,
have a vegetable, too, is the
message.
“I personally talk to pretty
much every new incoming
student during the student
orientation,” Decker said. “I
encourage them that at every
station there is a healthy option
and to consider that healthy
option.”
As someone working with
college students, Decker said
he understands how young
adults can easily gain weight at
college.
“There’s no reason they have
to have that freshman 15,” he
said, referring to the typical
weight gain for first year col-
lege students. “It is possible to
come in, eat healthy — and eat
enough to where you’re full —
and still make healthy choices.”
For some students, the
freshman 15 is turning into the
freshman 20.
With an all-you-can-eat
dining room, Decker said he
encourages students to take a
small amount first, then come
back for more if they are still
hungry.
“We try to be educational and
encourage students to make the
right choices,” Decker said.
After a career of working at
high-end restaurants in New
York City and New Jersey, the
chef said he had no plans to
relocate to central Nebraska.
“I knew where Kearney was
from growing up in Kansas,”
he said. “I wasn’t optimistically
thrilled about the opportunity to
come here — until I got here.”
After a campus tour and a
drive through town, Decker
changed his mind.
“Once I saw this place,
I knew there was no way I
couldn’t do it because it was
such an incredible opportunity,”
he said. “The people — espe-
cially the students — really
make it worthwhile for me. I
don’t feel like I have a job, I
feel like I have an opportunity
to do what I love to do and,
hopefully, make a difference in
people’s lives. I couldn’t think
of a better environment to be
in.”
email to:
CONTINUED FROM 1
DECKER:
Coming to Kearney presented incredible opportunity because people, especially students, make it worthwhile
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Friday, August 22nd
5pm–7pm: BBQ & Farmers Market
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9pm–1am: Karaoke at Stucks Last Call
Saturday, August 23rd
8am: Car Show Registration
Contact Rick at 440-3826 or Larry at 233-4328. Show from 10:30am to 3pm.
Kids bring your Hot Wheels for the Hot Wheels Races!
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Registration starts at 8:30 a.m. at the Elm Creek School.
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*Parade Prizes announced at Sunday BBQ in the Park (5pm)
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Immediately Following Parade: Dunk Tank on Tyler Street,
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11am–1pm: United Methodist Church Food Stand
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11am–2pm: Lunch Specials at Mom’s Kitchen
11am–2pm: Lunch Buffett at Stuck’s Last Call
1pm–4pm: Altar Society Ice Cream Social at the Catholic
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1pm: Boy Scout Troop 155, 29 Hole Disc Golf Tournament at
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Contact Levi Hubbard at 627-2483 to sign up
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