By Melissa Proulx, Staff Writer

As of Sunday, Nov. 16, the University of New Hampshire has become one of the first schools in the nation to sign on to the Partnership for a Healthier America’s (PHA) Healthier Campus Initiative.

A three-year commitment, the program aims to make campuses healthier by providing guidelines for food and nutrition as well as physical activities and programs that the university can adopt.

Some of these guidelines include offering healthier food and beverage options in the dining halls and on their catering menus by offering a minimum of five fruits, five vegetables, two 100-percent whole grains at lunch and dinner and limiting the amount of fried food offered; encouraging campus-goers to drink more water; providing trained food and nutrition professionals on campus for all students; encouraging healthier choices on campus by providing designated bike lanes and parking spots, as well as a bike rental program; encouraging the use of public transportation and implementing a mandatory health and wellness module for all first-year and transfer students.

“UNH has been committed to improving the health of its community for many years,” Dick Cannon, vice president of finance and administration and founder of the campus’ Healthy UNH initiative, said in a press release issued by the university. “We want to empower every member of our community to make healthy choices and we strive to be the healthiest campus in the country by 2020. Joining PHA’s Healthier Campus Initiative is a great next step in our work toward that goal.”

According to a press release issued by the university’s media relation department, this will impact more than 15,000 students and more than 3,000 faculty and staff, and the campus already meets more than half the 23 guidelines put in place by the initiative, making them confident in their ability to complete the rest by the spring of 2017.

Only 19 other colleges and universities in the nation are involved in the initiative, some of which include: Arizona State University, Binghamton University, Central New Mexico Community College, Clayton State University, Florida International University, George Mason University, George Washington University, Georgia Institute of Technology and Hampshire College, among a list of others.

The PHA was created in conjunction with First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move!” effort, though they are independent from the program. The PHA is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization designed to end childhood obesity.

“Colleges and universities are in a unique position to help shape tomorrow’s leaders, whether they are teachers, coaches, policymakers, CEOs, moms or dads,” Lawrence A. Soler, CEO of PHA, said in the press release. “We know that going to college is a time of change for many students — we also know that means it’s a time when new habits are formed. By creating healthier food and physical activity environments today, campuses and universities are encouraging healthier habits that will carry over into tomorrow.”