Dining services need to be mindful of allergies, diet restrictions

By Danielle Roberts

On Monday nights, my class ends at 7:45 p.m. It is late enough where Einstein’s has closed and Valentine Dining Hall has changed to Boomer’s Grill. I am starving and in need of a meal, but my only option is Boomer’s, where I cannot (or should not) eat.

I am one of the many students at Lasell who have diet restrictions. I have severe Acid Reflux, which means I cannot digest foods like processed/red meats, some dairy products, and fried food. This limits my choices of what I can eat on campus, especially if I go to Boomer’s. Some people ask me, “Why don’t you pick something healthier to eat?” My problem is not about disregarding the healthy choices, but more so that there are no choices to eat healthy.

This is the case for students who have diet restrictions, whether they are forced or chosen. They live gluten, dairy, meat or nut-free lives, which is perfectly fine. However, there are limited options for what is available to eat around campus. Boomer’s offers fried foods, red meat and cheese products. The dining hall has a vegetarian section and gluten-free items, but these choices scarcely change, making it difficult for any variety in meals.

It is tough to make a decision on what to eat because usually there is nothing for people with restrictions. Red meat has been the popular item in the Homestyle section lately, excluding this part for vegetarians. Sandwiches are a great option, but the line is always wrapped around the entire counter during lunch, making it difficult for students with time restraints. Even the stir-fry section has changed, as there are hardly any nights where they have stir-fry with plain chicken or tofu. Pizza, salad, hamburgers, and French fries are always available, but someone unable to eat cheese or meat cannot have these foods, and eating salad every day becomes boring.


While Boomer’s has delicious late-night snacks, the options are not mindful of those with diet restrictions. Photo by Danielle Roberts.

The dining hall is making attempts to cater to everyone’s food restrictions. I appreciate the vegetarian section and gluten-free items, but what about the students with other allergies or limitations? All students should be able to go to the dining hall for dinner and find something to eat, no matter what their diet restrictions are. It used to be a rarity when someone had a food allergy or intolerance, or chose not to eat meat, but now there are many students on campus who deal with these issues.

What would work best for the dining hall is to listen to everyone’s struggles and work directly with them to try and change their menu. Maybe it could be offering a salad bar at Boomer’s, or having more poultry options at night instead of red meat or fish, or even paying more attention to the napkin notes on the board.

With our bodies changing quickly, it should no longer be a problem for the dining hall to change their options to adapt with the students’ needs.

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