Dishing up good health

Bill serving up an egg-white omeletEvery university has its hang outs—the student union, the library... At Washington State University Vancouver, the cafeteria acts as the town square. Here students, faculty and staff gather to take a break and break some bread. Café and Catering Manager, Bill Bontems, looks out for the wellbeing of the entire campus community by offering meals and snacks that are as nutritious as they are delicious.

“It’s critical in this country that we turn our eating habits in a much healthier direction,” said Bontems. “We added a stir-fried vegetable dish and a stir-fried chicken dish to the menu which has evolved into offering steamed vegetable and rice bowls.”

Bontems, who has more than 35 years of experience in the food industry, tries to round out healthy options by offering one healthy soup each day, egg-white omelets, gluten-free fruit bars and more. A healthy-option menu and a nutrition chart that lists calorie counts and fat grams for the cafeteria’s most popular items are posted on its wall and website.

Beyond breakfast and lunch service, Bontems occasionally offers healthy-cooking classes for WSU Vancouver faculty, staff and students as part of the campus’s wellbeing program. He teaches a small group how to make a healthy entrée with a vegetable and a starch—he may even throw in a dessert next time he teaches class.

The public is welcome to dine at the WSU Vancouver cafeteria located in the Dengerink Administration building. A smaller café is open in the Firstenburg Student Commons. The cafeteria offers a daily entrée special, a daily sandwich special and two soups.

Twice a month Bontems turns the cafeteria into a Culture Café featuring menus that celebrate cultures around the nation and the globe.

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This article appears in Northwest Crimson & Gray Magazine

Northwest Crimson & Gray is the semiannual magazine of WSU Vancouver, produced to highlight the WSU Vancouver community and higher education in Southwest Washington. You can subscribe for free.