Addressing dietary restrictions

Aramark hosted a focus group for students with dietary restrictions in Atherton Union last week to address the challenges these students face when eating in campus dining halls.

The goals of the 12-person group were to spread the word about accommodations that exist in the dining halls and to learn about specific problems students have when trying to follow a specialized diet.

The group focused mainly on students who are vegetarian or vegan, but the solutions the group discussed can also benefit students with allergies or intolerances to specific food items, such as gluten or dairy.

Freshman Kate Webb has been a vegetarian for nine years and is the head of special dietary needs for Dawgs for a Cause. This group focuses on increasing communication between the students and Aramark.

“After talking about problems, we focused on giving possible solutions,” Webb said. “The key to making the food accessible for everyone is more customized bars like the salad bar. Students can make their food more to order, which is how you can accommodate all the students without blowing the budget.”

Michelle Bryant-Jones, dining service director, said a change that is already being implemented is labeling foods that are dairy-free, gluten-free, vegetarian or vegan. This way, students with allergies or intolerances can know exactly what they are eating.

Another change coming after break will be having the Mongolian grill open for light lunch instead of the grill area, Jones said.

“This will assure that we are offering a quality healthy meal throughout the day,” Bryant-Jones said in an email.

The group is planning a follow-up meeting in February to discuss how the changes are helping. Students will be able to voice further concerns if necessary.

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