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The Hill Dining Hall provides a preemptive Thanksgiving feast Credit: Daniel Schwartz

Most dieting advice is ineffective and comes and goes as a fad. What trustworthy resource do Penn Students have to properly structure their meals? 

Look no further — Dan Connolly is Bon Appétit’s new registered dietitian who aspires to be social media-savvy and highly accessible to students.

Connolly has worked with Bon Appétit on projects since 2011, but was just certified as a registered dietitian, or RD, in June 2014. Bon Appétit and Penn Dining have always had a nutritionist and dietitian on staff, but Connolly aims to have a much more public presence than his predecessors.

Tweets and Instas are also on the menu this semester. “A main aspect of my job is to maintain my social media presence,” Connolly said. To be more accessible to students and to put a face behind the name, Dan manages his Twitter and Instagram accounts daily. 

Connolly eats in a Penn Dining facility every day and knows just how to navigate them to find the best meals. Taking a photo each day of the meal he concocts, he posts the product of dining-hall expertise online as “Dan’s Daily Dish.”

KCEH Lunch #DailyDish: crispy buffalo tofu - rice - assorted vegetables

A photo posted by Daniel Connolly, RDN, LDN (@dansdailydish) on

Hot spiced oatmeal, dried fruit melange, roasted seed granola with almonds, and berries! #synergizeyourdiet #wellbeing

A photo posted by Daniel Connolly, RDN, LDN (@dansdailydish) on

Connolly also ‘dishes’ out nutrition facts and debunks fad diets or myths over his social media accounts. A student can feel free to tweet at Connolly their dietary or nutritional concerns — or just ask what’s good to eat in the dining halls one day to get a response from him.

Sometimes matters of health and wellness are best left private. If a student does not want to ask Connolly dietary questions over social media, he is readily available to give private advice as a normal dietitian.

“I speak to students one-on-one if I feel that they need help through our cafes to find the healthy options,” Connolly said.

Connolly most frequently and regularly deals with students who suffer from allergies and other medical dietary restrictions. He can connect a student with a chef to arrange specially made meals or just guide them to the right line in the dining hall. “You just need to be a little bit vocal and ask and come talk to me,” he added.

In a more macro view of Penn Dining’s options, Connolly checks to make sure that there are healthy options everyday, no matter if someone wants to eat vegan or gluten-free or has a certain food allergy. He also double checks that dining options that are listed gluten free or vegan are indeed so. “We can have the confidence that we are practicing the due diligence with our labeling,” Connolly said.

Connolly talks to the chefs at each of the dining halls on a daily basis, making sure that the healthy options are there and that they are attractive. “I also review the chef’s daily menus to make sure that everything is perfectly balanced and that everything is named correctly,” he said.

“We needed someone whose face could be there, so that students could feel more comfortable finding the nutritional and dietary information they need,” Barbara Lea-Kruger, director of communications for Business Services said. 

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