Words by Emily Fulmer
Photos submitted by GRAZERS
During the March 2 meeting, the Board of Trustees approved a partnership with Aramark Corporation, a foodservice provider, which will lead to upgrades and new construction on the Kent campus.
Some of these additions include Starbucks, Panera Bread, Sprout’d, Nourish’d, Fresco and GRAZERS. Adding Fresco and GRAZERS will be the first time a Kent-based business will become a campus dining option for students.
The agreement will take effect June 1, 2017 and will support Kent State of Wellness, a universitywide effort to promote wellness and healthy living. This effort includes expanding vegan, vegetarian and local and organic options; reducing the calories, saturated fat and sodium in food options; and increasing the amount of fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
GRAZERS, located in Downtown Kent, is a local fast-casual restaurant that puts an emphasis on fresh, healthy dining options. The restaurant is known for their variety of meat, vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free and dairy-free options.
Stacey Lasher and Carl Bauer, former teachers and owners of GRAZERS, opened up the establishment with a create-your-own concept to help cater to dietary needs and the vegan lifestyle.
Being residents of Kent and part of the community, they felt it was important to open a restaurant focusing on healthy food to make a difference.
“Everybody in our respective families have some kind of food allergy or intolerance,” Bauer says. “A long time ago we used to joke about how it would be nice to have a restaurant where all of us could eat.”
Lasher says eating out with her family was never fun due to the various dietary issues her family had.
“We would look at it as ‘oh no, we have to eat out,’ so we wanted to have a restaurant where everyone could eat no matter what their issue is,” Lasher says.
Bauer says he purchases the groceries for GRAZERS himself and purchases local, organic products whenever he can. The establishment only uses simple, identifiable ingredients so they can tell their customers what exactly is in their food.
In the search for new vendors to bring to the Kent campus Aramark selected GRAZERS due to their social media presence along with university’s desire to get businesses from the local community involved.
GRAZERS was also a response to President Beverly Warren’s desire to make Kent State the healthiest college campus.
The Aramark partnership transpired out of a need for healthier options on campus to help Kent State achieve the goal of becoming the healthiest campus and to help students with food allergies.
“We have heard from countless college students about how they can’t use their meals, so much of their meal plan is wasted because there isn’t anything healthy on campus,” Lasher says. “Kent State knew that, and when they were looking for a new dining services partner they really focused on healthy.”
With many of their regular customers being students, Lasher and Bauer already feel like part of the Kent State community and feel that having GRAZERS become part of Dining Services seems like the next natural step.
Emily Fulmer is the student life reporter for The Burr.