Cafe to promote healthy diets on campus

A new cafe at the National University of Samoa (N.U.S.) will promote healthy diets in a bid to get more students to embrace and promote a healthy lifestyle.

The N.U.S. President and Vice Chancellor, Professor Alec Ekeroma, said in response to questions from the Samoa Observer that the new Ma’atia’a Café will offer vegetarian dishes as part of its healthy diet menu.

He said staff and students are already offered the usual dishes such rice, chicken curry and chow mein and sapasui on campus – though with the new cafe there are fruits and salad dishes – which would give everyone an option.

"The new Ma’atia’a Café provides an option of cuisine for staff and students from a portable cart shaped in a Samoan fale,” he said.

“Operated by Steve Percival of the Tiapapata Wild Foods café, the Ma’atia’a Café will serve vegetarian and other healthy options including coffee. 

“Part funded by a United Nations agency under a programme to showcase local produce in healthy cuisine.”

Professor Ekeroma emphasised that the success of the new cafe will depend on the patronage of the N.U.S. staff, students and visitors.

“It will be very much an experiment and may well be fully operational during peak times such as enrolment and University functions."

The  Ma’atia’a Café is part of a larger project by local filmmaker Galumalemana Steven Percival to change people's eating habits and choices.

In a telephone interview with Samoa Observer on Monday, Galumalemana said they are also trying to influence fast-food providers to add vegetables to the various dishes that they provide.

He explained that a healthier diet is vegan but it is different from most Samoans who are familiar with eating meat and hardly any vegetables.

According to Galumalemana, people are unaware of how to make vegan food tasty, delicious and nutritious. And the menu on offer at the cafe will offer vegan including fish dishes.

After the cafe’s official launch, they will reach out to places of interest such as the Ministry of Education Sports and Culture [M.E.S.C.], the University of the South Pacific [U.S.P.] Alafua Campus and other organisations who like the concept.

The N.U.S. administration has also asked for three of the mobile cafes to be stationed at the campus with one at the university gym, which Galumalemana said would be ideal for those attending the Zumba sessions on campus.

He emphasised that he wants to give consumers healthy food options when it comes to fast foods, and is grateful for the assistance rendered by the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation [ [F.A.O.].

The F.A.O. communication specialist Kevin Hadfield told the Samoa Observer that the cafe is an extension of a project run by the Tiapapata Art Center.

"The heart of F.A.O. work is to achieve food and nutrition security for all and make sure that people have regular access to enough high-quality food to lead active, healthy lives," he said.

"F.A.O. aims to assist in ensuring nutritious and high quality food is available and affordable in Samoa. To this end F.A.O. has been working with partners, including Galemalumana to help promote healthier diet options in Samoa.

"Earlier this year through an F.A.O.–Tiapapata collaboration and or partnership, a seminar was hosted by Galemalumana and attended by 25 food vendors from the Savalalo Market to encourage healthy meal options."

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