HAZLETON, Pa. — A heart-healthy blend of lemon quinoa, garlic chickpeas, butternut squash and balsamic chicken breast was on the menu for students at Penn State Hazleton recently thanks to a special Mediterranean-themed meal organized by campus Housing and Food Services intern and Penn State World Campus graduate student Elizabeth Gillen.
Gillen, who is pursuing a master’s degree in nutrition through Penn State World Campus, spent the fall 2022 semester working with Housing and Food Services in Highacres Café, Penn State Hazleton’s full-service, food-court style dining hall.
On the day of the event, Gillen helped prepare portions of the meal, served it to students and did other prep work.
"One of my favorite cuisines is Mediterranean or Greek, so I took my love for that and turned it into a nutrition-education-themed meal with a focus on heart health,” Gillen said.
Leading up to the event, she worked closely with Director of Housing and Food Services Mark Tranguch and Food Services Manager Edward Beneshunas to research recipes and identify ingredients. Cooks helped prepare a few of the menu items that Gillen made sure were at the proper temperature.
“Everyone who tried the meal seemed to enjoy it,” she said. “Students seemed excited about the fact that it was good, and good for them.”
Gillen also gained additional experience by contributing to special events catered by Housing and Food Services that were held on campus throughout the semester.
"Elizabeth did an outstanding job during her time with Housing and Food Services, not only collaborating with our staff but also working diligently to serve our students,” Tranguch said. “We’re pleased that she was able to gain valuable experience in the food service management industry and we wish her the very best as she continues pursuing her educational and career goals.”
Gillen said she chose to further her education by pursuing her master’s degree through Penn State World Campus after earning a bachelor’s degree in nutrition from West Chester University. The meal was Gillen’s final project with Housing and Food Services for the semester.
“I’m extremely thankful to Mark and Ed for having me this semester,” Gillen said. “I learned so much while I was here about working in this type of food service setting.”