The Orange County SportsPlex is cutting some of the fat out of its snack bar and replacing it with more nutritional food options.
The recreational facility took the first step by replacing the snack bar’s deep fryer with a convection oven. It was purchased with a matching grant through the Orange County Health Department’s Innovation Grant Program.
While starting out mainly as a recreational facility, the SportsPlex has evolved into a more fitness and health-oriented center, and has updated its cooking techniques to meet that new standard.
After a registered dietitian reviewed the food options at the snack bar in June of 2013, the SportsPlex began a series of recommended changes to improve the nutrition of both cooked food and packaged food.
Board of Health Strategic Planning Manager for the Orange County Health Department Meredith Stewart told WCHL that increasing the availability and affordability of healthy food choices is essential to the Orange County community.
“In order to have changes in things like obesity rate and physical activity, we need both individual behavior change as well as policy change to make our community healthier,” Stewart said. “This is one of those changes. And we’re really excited that these changes offer the opportunity for healthier choices for all groups of people when they’re at the SportsPlex.”
The SportsPlex is already replacing sugary breakfast bars, reducing the amount of candy sold as well as continuing to offer healthy snacks such as yogurt and fruits.
Membership and Marketing Director at the Orange County Sportsplex Mary Catherine McKee says customers seem to like the new change, and the baked options are even attracting a few new faces to the facility.
The snack bar now offers baked alternatives of its usual lunch favorites, including chicken tenders, french fries and whole grain pizzas. With no more fried foods on the menu, the SportsPlex is adapting to the new changes in its kitchen.
“We’re still playing with the cooking times,” McKee said. “I think that’s been the biggest difference because the fryer can do things very quickly where as we only have a convection oven and microwave combo right now so we’re still playing with how to create those items at a faster rate.”
Also known as the Triangle SportsPlex, the facility is equipped with three indoor pools, an ice rink and a fitness center and also hosts parties and a summer camp.