By Erika Domingues
This article was originally published in Issue 13, Fiftieth Year of The Minstrel (April 14, 2016). Click here to view the entire issue.
The DeSales University Center’s food is far from your mom and dad’s home-cooked meals. But imagine what it’s like for students with peanut allergies, lactose intolerance and gluten sensitivity to eat at the DUC. Restrictive diets like these make it even harder to eat at the DUC. Students constantly must ask what ingredients were used to make the food, read labels and avoid foods that are absolutely delicious. But thankfully, DeSales Dining helps create a tasteful solution to eating with a restrictive diet on campus and does its best to accommodate everyone.
There is a gluten-free zone called My Zone that is reserved strictly for the sale of gluten-free products to avoid contamination. This zone includes a toaster and microwave to avoid gluten cross-contamination. Sadly, not all areas can be considered gluten-free in the DUC, as the kitchen is not fully free from cross-contamination. However, salad dressing used in the DUC is made by Ken’s brand dressing, which is gluten-free. There is also soy milk and lactose-free milk, as well as the new addition of Gevalia almond milk iced coffee.
In Le Bistro, foods are labeled with the letters VG, V, NGI and L. These are abbreviations for foods that are vegan friendly, vegetarian friendly, have no gluten ingredients and local produce foods. Anything that contains nuts or soy is labeled through the DUC. If you need to know if a certain allergen is in the food, most staff members are fully knowledgeable on the ingredients, and you can also consult with the expert chef on hand.
Sodexo, the company in charge of providing meals for the DUC, gets local produce from a 150-mile radius around the university to provide the best health for students. All vegetables are fresh, with the exception of frozen peas and carrots.
For those with a highly restrictive diet, DeSales has a great program to accommodate this problem. With a doctor’s written diagnosis of the dietary need, students can go to the office of disabilities to receive a special meal plan. Through this plan, chefs meet with students and their families to go over their specific dietary needs and come up with suitable meals.
An hour before students would like to pick up their meal, students can call or text the executive chef on duty to make their request. All food is prepared in a sterile environment free of food allergens. There are currently fewer than five students on this plan throughout the school.
Although it is tough to eat college food on a restrictive diet, it is definitely doable with the help of the DUC staff, food labels and a variety of options.