When students with food allergies arrive on campus, they may be apprehensive about what cafeteria food they will be able to eat. AVI Food Systems tries to accommodate every student with allergen-free options.
“The biggest [food allergy] on this campus, and what we’ve run into the most, is people with gluten allergies,” said Chris Wisbey, resident director of food services. “At every station, there is a gluten-free item or meal available. We also offer gluten-free desserts.”
Students who have a food allergy have access to alternative food options.
“We will begin making our own black bean burgers from scratch,” Wisbey said. “We can get tofu turkey. We can get vegan cheese. If students want something and they don’t see it, all they have to do is ask and 90% of the time, we’ll get it for them, but we don’t know if people don’t ask for it. We have all those options available to order from, and if not, we’ll go to the store and buy it for them.”
Lauren Bissetta, a junior business major, is lactose intolerant, allergic to gluten, and extra sensitive to oily foods.
“I sometimes have a hard time eating here because I’m used to just having salads, but sometimes I definitely want more than that,” Bissetta said.
Katy Knight, a junior biology preprofessional major, is allergic to wheat, eggs, dairy, garlic, and cane sugar.
“I eat a lot of salad,” Knight said. “I go and look for stuff that doesn’t have what I’m allergic to. A lot of times I compromise a bit because it’s not an allergy that’s going to make me break out, or swell up, or anything, but I’m more sensitive to it. It’s kind of like process of elimination sometimes.”
“I’ve asked [the chefs] a couple times to make gluten-free stuff,” Knight said. “There are so many things I’m allergic to that it’s not really worth asking them to make something that doesn’t have all those in it. I more so pick and choose and make my own stuff.”
Signs at each station use icons to alert students of the eight most common ingredients that trigger food allergies: milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, soy and wheat.
Changes are also being made to make more accommodations for those who have food allergies.
“We have a cooler down in the Johnson Center which I’m bringing up here,” Wisbey said. “We’re going to have all kinds of gluten-free items in it and it’s going to sit where the cereal is at for students to have access to.”
AVI is working on opening a new allergen-free food station in the dining hall which will be open to all students.
“It’s free of all eight allergens,” Wisbey said. “We’re going to offer that here at the end of the semester or the beginning of next semester.”
“I do appreciate what they are doing for us because it is hard,” Bissetta said. “Just making food for people who don’t have allergies like we do, but also having to make [food] for us, it’s definitely a lot of work. I am impressed by what they do have.”