Students Create App to Lead Patients and Families to Healthy Food on Campus

Motivated by the knowledge that “nutrition is preventive medicine,” three members of the Miller School’s 2019 M.D./M.P.H. class have created a free iPhone app to show patients and families, faculty, staff and trainees the healthy, reasonably priced food options on the medical campus.

“As students of public health, we know it’s important to make healthy and affordable decisions,” said Heather Farthing, one of the students who founded Healthy Hospitals for U last year to create a Health District environment that promotes nutrition and wellness by giving patients, faculty and students the opportunity to make healthy choices.

Their first project was a pamphlet they created with Amy Kimberlain, a nutritionist at the Diabetes Research Institute, listing some of the healthiest menu items on campus, with a map directing people to the restaurants. Calorie counts and carbohydrate and fat content are included.

“We wanted to do more,” said Rebecca Lane, another founder of the app, which is called UM Eats. “We know that knowledge is power.”

They talked to Alex J. Mechaber, M.D., senior associate dean for medical education, who said he was “very happy to support this innovation. The app looks great and is a great way to help promote healthy eating on campus.”

The students are committed to helping “families and children visiting sick loved ones, residents looking for late-night fuel, and of course our academic colleagues.”

“We want to be the gatekeeper, we want to be the portal,” Lane said. “We want to make sure it stays fun. Having the U behind the message adds weight to it and can change attitudes about healthy eating.”
The app includes other outside sources to guide home meal preparation and tools such as MyPlate for continuing health.

“We wanted to provide resources, education and products to help people make smarter choices,” said Sarah Simko, the third creator of UM Eats, which is available from the Apple app store here.

Josh Hellerstein, a student at MIT, did the coding for the site.

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