NAU celebrates pioneering campuswide initiative supporting health and wellness

Trail sign

April 17, 2019

Partnership for a Healthier America (PHA), which works with the private sector to ensure all children and young adults have the opportunity to live healthy, active lives, announced that Northern Arizona University has completed its three-year commitment to expanding healthier options across campus.

NAU is one of 32 institutions of higher learning to successfully complete its commitments to implementing PHA’s rigorous Healthier Campus Initiative (HCI) guidelines. The HCI guidelines are designed to create a culture shift toward greater health and wellness among the entire campus community. They range from providing healthier meals and convenient access to potable water to providing diverse opportunities for physical activity.

“We recognize that students’ well-being affects their academic success. As such, we celebrate our collective efforts to create a vibrant, healthy community where students and staff can thrive,” NAU President Rita Cheng said. “Over the years, NAU has demonstrated a strong commitment to creating a healthy campus and improving our strategic efforts around fitness and nutrition. We are proud to partner with Sodexo to achieve the HCI Healthy Campus designation.”

The effort was coordinated through the Healthy Campus Coalition and involved significant input from Campus Health Services and Campus Recreation.

“We congratulate Northern Arizona University’s commitment to supporting students and their wider campus community to form healthy habits that will last a lifetime,” said PHA President and CEO Nancy E. Roman. “Their demonstrated leadership is an important step forward towards realizing Partnership for a Healthier America’s goal that all young people grow up free from obesity, diabetes, heart disease and other conditions associated with excess weight.”

As part of their Healthier Campus Initiative commitment, NAU worked collaboratively with PHA to build upon existing campus wellness efforts to encourage and support greater physical activity and healthier eating habits. Every Healthier Campus Initiative partner commits to meeting 23 of 41 PHA guidelines within three years. With a focus on wellness, NAU had already met several of the guidelines, but new commitment elements include:

  • Implementing a comprehensive, strategic product placement/merchandising program/policy within dining venues to encourage healthier food consumption.
    • While many factors influenced the renovation of the new DüB resident dining facility on campus, NAU used this strategy to help guide the placement of different platforms. As a result, the first thing students see when they walk into the new DüB Dining District is Plant Forward, featuring fresh, exciting vegan and vegetarian dishes. NAU was recognized as one of Food Management’s 2018 Innovators of the year for its focus on health in campus dining.
  • Provide marked walking routes on campus, one of which must be at least two miles in length and have distance markers at regular intervals. A route map is made available to individuals on campus.
    • NAU’s Blue & Gold 5K offers a 3.2-mile hike through campus. The route is marked with a trailhead with distance markers every half-mile. Campus Recreation’s Bites and Hikes initiative offers an additional five hikes, ranging from one to 2.6 miles, on and around campus, with trail maps online. Each map, including for the Blue & Gold 5K, offers information on campus landmarks and healthy dining options along the way.

PHA’s guidelines were developed in collaboration with some of the nation’s leading nutrition, physical activity and campus wellness experts. Each of the commitment elements have been verified by an independent third party and are publicly reported in PHA’s annual progress reports.

A full overview of Northern Arizona University’s commitment can be found here. 

To learn more about PHA’s participating colleges and universities, visit

NAU Communications