Apr. 19, 2014

Vary dining options

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September 17, 2013

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Vegetarians, vegans and those with food allergies or dietary restrictions make up a large portion of the College of William and Mary’s student body. Some students choose to abide by certain diets, such as vegetarianism or veganism. Other students, such as those with Celiac Disease, food allergies or Type 1 Diabetes, must use discretion out of necessity. For this reason, and because students who live on campus are required to buy meal plans, dining halls must accommodate the dietary needs of all students, ensuring that even students with dietary restrictions consistently have multiple food options from which to choose.

Dining Services has made outstanding progress catering to students’ dietary needs and has been extremely receptive to student feedback. The Dining Advocacy Office located in the Commons Dining Hall is an excellent, easily accessible resource for students. Any student who wants to discuss ideas or make suggestions can easily meet with Larry Smith, Dining Services’ director of operations and sustainability coordinator, who will work with the chefs to accommodate student needs.

The addition to the Sadler Center’s dining hall opened up opportunities for greater selection of food, especially for vegans and vegetarians, and we are glad to see Dining Services has taken advantage of it. They devoted a new section of the dining hall entirely to vegetarian options, and feedback has been positive.

Because many students adopt a gluten-free diet out of necessity due to Celiac Disease, which results in gluten-intolerance, Dining Services should continue to prioritize the number of gluten-free options available — options that do not contain anything with flour or wheat such as regular pasta and pizza. They have done a wonderful job making gluten-free baked goods available on a daily basis, and with the addition of the new grill option at Sadler, students who eat gluten-free always have a substantial entrée option.

It would also be advisable for Dining Services to expand its selection of foods that are low in sugar for students with Type 1 Diabetes. Additionally, continuing to develop menu items that are low in sugar, fat and cholesterol would be good in general for all students at the College to promote a healthier lifestyle.

For students with severe food allergies or intolerances, it would be greatly appreciated if Dining Services made sure ingredients lists are readily available for all menu items at each station, which would be helpful for students with these dietary needs.

Additionally, Dining Services should strive to ensure that there are a wide array of gluten-free, allergy-friendly, vegetarian and vegan options at other locations, such as the Dodge Room and the Student Exchange. The Dodge Room has many sandwich options, which are excellent for students who are vegetarians, vegans, and who have allergies, but students who are gluten-free have a far more limited selection.

Considering the fact that food allergies are increasing, the College must be cognizant of the options available to this growing group of students. When the College requires those who live on campus to buy a meal plan, it is necessary for those students with dietary restrictions to have a number of healthy options.

Andrea Aron-Schiavone contributed to this editorial.

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