Autism Speaks U Makes It To Campus – The Highlander

Full story here.

Michael Gombita, Reporter

Members of Autism Speaks U, a university-wide organization, are looking forward to making an impact for people who have autism.

   Students Nicolina Davidson,speech language-pathology major, Alexis Membrino, physician’s assistant major, Brianna Membrino, occupational therapy major and Emily Power, nursing major, decided to bring this club to campus to raise money for research and awareness about autism.

   The club will raise money by means of fundraisers and activities.   “All of the money raised will go towards the Autism Speaks organization,” said Davidson.

   The students came up with the idea after they decided to start a club and the topic of autism always seemed to arise whenever the four got together.

   “We were just hanging out in our dorm and Nicolina brought up the interest of starting a club,” said Power. “She saw it on the Autism Awareness website, and saw the club advertised. We also saw that surrounding colleges such as Marywood and Wilkes had the club on their campus. So we were all in for helping out with the club, and the rest is history.”

   The four looked around campus to see who would be interested in serving as advisor.  They asked Dr. Lori Charney, assistant professor of occupational therapy.

   “I was very pleased that they have asked me to be an advisor,” said Charney, “This is my first year here at Misericordia University.”

   Charney has participated in fundraisers for autism and Autism Speaks, and she was interested in raising money for autism in the public school where she previously worked, but she did not reach her targeted number of fundraisers.

   “I was bummed out for not being able to do some of the fundraisers back at the public school,” said  Charney. “So when the group approached me to be able to help them with the club, I was right on board wanting to help.”

   April is autism awareness month when a special campaign, “Light It Up Blue” happens across the world.

   One notable event is the display of blue lights around the Empire State Building and Eiffel Tower.

   The Autism Speaks U club has planned events that enable everyone on campus to participate.

   “We’re going to have a day where everyone will wear blue,” said Powers.

   “We will also be selling blue t-shirts which all the money that is made goes to Autism Awareness but also to make sure that if no one has a blue shirt, they are able to get a blue shirt to wear.”


Metz Invites Students to T.A.S.T.E – The Highlander

Full story here.

Michael Gombita, Reporter

  “If you don’t clean your plate, you won’t get any dessert,” is an old expression moms might say to kids at the dinner table, but Metz Culinary Management is putting a twist on it.

   At the beginning of the spring semester, Metz offered students an opportunity to focus on selecting sustainable meals and eating practices –  and get rewarded for it.

   “Taking Action for a Sustainable Tomorrow Everywhere” also known as “T.A.S.T.E” or “Clean Plate” is a post-consumer waste program that Metz has been testing out for the past year. Metz now has a sustainable system.

   The T.A.S.T.E Initiative is available in many of Metz’s locations on the east coast from Atlanta, Fla. to right at home in Dallas Pa.

   Heidi Franssen, Metz. dining services manager, said she is thrilled to bring the program to the school.

   “We had Lebanon Valley College participate in the program first,” said Franssen. “Now it is going around from our corporate accounts to the school accounts but especially our school accounts.”

   The program’s main purpose is to aid in the national awareness about food waste. According to Jonathan Bloom’s book Wasteland, more than 4.5 million tons of food is wasted every year in the U.S. About 25 percent of that is edible food – enough to fill the Rose Bowl every day. The T.A.S.T.E. Initiative helps inform people in the dining hall or Cougar’s Den about the effects of food waste in  social, global and environmental ways.

   “By the time students get to college, students will be more aware about what they eat and what they are buying such as groceries,” said Franssen.

   Students who participate will receive a card and students will have to “clean their plate.” When they are done eating, they can go up and show their clean plate to the Metz employee who will stamp the student’s card. Student who have ten stamps will receive a token, which can be used for various items.

   “One token is a free soda, two is an ice cream, three is $5 in flex points, four is $10, and five is $15,” said Franssen. “It pays to do it.”

   Many students are doing the best they can improve his or her eating practices, but students such as first year physical therapy major Sierra Krohnemann say this program adds fun to the effort.

   “Anyone can say they are not going to turn down a reward,” said Krohnemann.

   Metz is also encouraging students to sample things that students might otherwise try.

   “Anyone who wants to taste anything, Metz will give you a sample portion of it,” said Franssen. “We try to encourage students to try new foods that they are not sure about.”

   As the T.A.S.T.E Initiative progresses, Metz will add to the project.  One new idea is reusable food containers.

   “At the beginning of the fall semester, paying an initial $5 will get you a plastic container for students to use for takeout,” said Franssen. “If you are done or the container gets dirty, students can bring it back to the dining hall and you can return it or get a brand new one for the next takeout. It eliminates any paper waste that is caused.”

   Metz will also assess results to see if the T.A.S.T.E Initiative is effective. In the near future, Metz will calculate waste by comparing the amount of unfinished food to that of previous  semester when the initiative was not in place.

“It is going to be interesting to see if there is a difference in the amount of waste that we are producing,” said Franssen.

Franssen encourages students to try the food that Metz serves whenever they can, just as they can sample foods at grocery stores.

“When you are at the deli at the grocery store, you can try a slice of meat and see if you like it,” said Franssen. “Instead of buying a pound of something you don’t know if you like it or not, you will know beforehand before purchasing it.”

Advertisements and information about the initiative are posted in the Banks Student Life Center. Information is printed on table centerpieces, and advertisements are posted on the marquees located in the food lines.