Dining halls must provide a wider range of dietary options and post nutritional information more clearly on campus and the web.
Freshmen with allergies or other dietary restrictions may be getting the short end of the stick when it comes to dining on campus. Freshmen are required to buy meal plans, regardless of any potential dietary restrictions they may have. Campus dining halls should have an obligation to provide a range of options for every diet type because students are essentially being forced to pay for a yearlong supply of food.
While dining halls do have some meatless options for vegetarians, vegan-friendly food on campus is relatively scarce. It is ridiculous to expect a vegan student to live off of salads for an entire year. Students with conditions such as celiac disease may also have trouble finding suitable food.
Even when options are available for these students, the range of choices is severely limited. Students with special diets or allergies who choose to live on campus should not be sentenced to eat only one of a few options for the duration of the school year. Dining halls should make sure every student has a wide variety of choices when it comes to meals if Texas State requires all freshmen living on campus to buy a meal plan. Students with diets restricted by allergies, medical conditions and moral or religious reasons all must be considered when menus are planned for each dining hall.
Once the new options are provided, information about these options needs to be more easily accessible for students. The Chartwells website does include a variety of information including gluten-free diet guidelines, healthy options on campus and nutritional food facts for the dining halls. But the Chartwells website should additionally include detailed food ingredient information for students to highlight Texas State-specific meals that may interfere with special diets or allergies. In dining halls, special markings or icons should be implemented to visibly provide important nutritional information for students with dietary restrictions.
In the FAQ section of the website, students are directed to call Chartwells staff if they have special diet concerns or allergies not addressed on the website. But, those students may not have the time to call the Chartwells office when grabbing a quick lunch at the nearest dining hall. The nutritional lists for each Jones food establishment, for example, do not include allergy information or warnings about animal products even though the website has information available for Jones Food Court.
Every dining hall should have these options readily available. Commons and Harris should not be the only dining halls with a significant variety of options for non-standard diets. Jones is especially lacking in alternative foods, which is a shame, because it may likely be the only source of food for a freshman studying late hours. After 10 p.m., when half of the restaurants in Jones have closed, there are few options available for students with special diets and allergies.
All students should be entitled to a range of food to choose from at any operating hour. Students with dietary restrictions paying for a year’s worth of food must be able to get those meals at any time and at any venue, not just during certain times or at specific dining halls.
Eating on campus with dietary restrictions is a hassle. Chartwells needs to make sure every student has a range of food to choose from regardless of the time or dining hall, as well as easily accessible specific ingredient information.
--Savannah Wingo is a mass communication sophomore.