By Nicholas Steinhauser
Dietary restrictions are an important part of many students’ lives, whether they be an allergy or a personal choice. No matter the needs, there are resources available at the College to accommodate students with food that they are safe and comfortable eating.
One option to assist with accommodations is Eickhoff Hall. Here, students have a lot of flexibility when it comes to how they want to manage their restrictions.
“The dining hall displays the foods we are serving, the allergens associated with the foods, and it is where we have our allergy chef to accommodate students with food allergies, so it is the primary location to go to for students with food allergies,” said Anne Sugrue, the registered dietitian at the College.
At every station in Eickhoff, there are signs regarding dietary information in the meals that are being served so the students will know what they will be eating in their meals. However, depending on the day, Eickhoff may have little or nothing that a student with dietary restrictions can eat, thus limiting their options and meal consistency.
Students may instead feel more comfortable forming their own pre-planned menu for the week with safe and related options. By meeting with Sugrue, students can set up a menu for the entire week and select a time to pick up their food each day so they can have a safe meal prepared for them when they need it.
Eickhoff can have some safe options for some students at stations like the Simple Zone, which offers gluten-free and nut free options for people with allergies, or the Vegan Loop, which provides meat-free foods for vegans or students with religious restrictions.
Sometimes, however, these options can also not be appealing for these students, which makes it more reliable for them to set up their own meals with the dietitian.
One of the most notable attributes of Eickhoff in regards to dietary accommodations is that students have freedom to choose how they get their food by making their own menu with Sugrue.
“Most students do a little of each option,” said Sugrue. “They may find breakfast easier to navigate on their own but may have some lunches and dinners made for them by the allergy chef. It is about what they are most comfortable doing.”
Sugrue knows a lot about how to manage meals at Eickhoff Hall and can also help students with other food recommendations on campus.
“For anyone with dietary restrictions, I would recommend trying to form a relationship with the dietitian and the chefs as a way to have a stable connection in how to get safe meals,” said Shane Maccarone, a sophomore interactive multimedia major.
Maccarone has a rare condition eosinophilic esophagitis, commonly referred to as EoE, which causes his throat to close up in the presence of certain allergens like nuts, eggs and milk. Maccarone said that Eickhoff has been helpful for him in navigating the difficult process in finding safe options to eat at the College.
“I really haven’t had any trouble navigating where to eat because I’ve mostly gotten those resources from the dietitian and received most of my allergy meals from Eickhoff,” Maccarone said.
At all other dining locations, it is best for students to ask about the nutritional information regarding the meals served there. Even then, some students may be uncomfortable with cross-contamination, especially those with allergies.
“I wish the other locations on campus could have more outright safe options for students with dietary restrictions like me,” said Maccarone.
On the other hand, some students might prefer the meals at these other locations, but they are limited by the amount of flex points that they are offered at the beginning of the semester.
“In regards to the meal plans, I think it may be interesting to provide more flex points specifically to students with dietary restrictions,” said Owen Konowicz, a freshman political science major.
Konowicz has a severe allergy to dairy and finds more options at locations like the Brower Student Center and TDubs for his dietary needs, but struggles to maintain his flex points due to him constantly going to these outlets.
Having more points “would give these students with dietary restrictions more flexibility in their options besides just Eickhoff,” Konowicz said.
How students find sufficient eating options on campus can entirely depend upon what kind of restrictions they have and whether or not they are comfortable with potential cross-contamination. It varies for every student, but it is recommended to check out all of the dining options at the College and see what works best for them personally.
“I would recommend keeping food in your dorm for quick meals if you have dietary restrictions,” said Konowicz.
Anyone with dietary restrictions who are interested in making accommodation-specific meals can make an appointment with Sugrue on the College’s dining site.