Baseball games and summer go together. But some fans are conditioned to order unhealthy options at the concession stand — mainly because that is all that traditionally is available at ball games: cheeseburgers, hot dogs, ice cream, potato chips, French fries, candy. And while the players are getting plenty of exercise on the field, fans in the stands can sit on the bleachers for hours while they watch the game. Keene’s Swamp Bats collegiate baseball team, a Healthy Monadnock organizational champion, was determined to change that and make summer Swamp Bats home games not only fun but healthier for the fans, players, volunteers and staff.
Healthier Food Options, 3rd Inning Dance Break
All home games now feature designated healthy choices at concessions plus everyone will have the opportunity to move more through the addition of a third inning dance and stretch break — all while enjoying a stadium (Alumni Field) that prohibits smoking, vaping and smoke-less tobacco. New concession stand options now include salads (with or without grilled chicken), veggie burgers and grilled chicken sandwiches, in addition to its regular fare. During the third inning, there is a “dance break” and fans are encouraged to either dance with those leading the break on the field or just get up and stretch.
“Healthy choices haven’t traditionally been a part of the baseball fan culture, but it’s become part of the culture for the Keene Swamp Bats. People come in from out of town, and they are often surprised to find healthy food options. We just think it is the right thing to do — and the third inning dance break is fun!” — Vicki Bacon, General Manager, Swamp Bats
Getting fans to try the new options was not easy since some fans were accustomed to ordering the same meal each time they attended a game. While organizers of the Swamp Bats realized that some people would not change their eating habits because healthier options were offered, they were encouraged by some fans, volunteers and staff liking the menu additions and ordering the healthier selections. Nutrition interns (from Keene State College) also helped create a healthy lunch meal for kids called the “Batters Box,” which has been popular.
The Swamp Bats staff will continue to monitor which healthy concession stand options are most popular and continue to tweak the menu to offer healthier selections. The staff also has added more local vendors for its meat, potato and other foods to create a fresher selection among the “not so healthy” options, such as hamburgers and French fries.