Ferris’ Food Failings

Dining Services struggles to provide options for students with dietary restrictions

By: Molly Gabrielson, Guest Reporter

While Ferris tries to accommodate varying dietary restrictions, some students feel the effort put forth by the Dining Services’ continues to fall short.

Ferris’ on staff registered dietitian, Brenda Walton, meets with students to discuss with them how the Dining Services can provide them with more allergen-friendly foods at the Rock Café, which was newly renovated in 2009, and the Quad Café, which was added when the University Center was renovated in 2015.

“The most common requests are for dairy, soy, egg, and peanut allergies and gluten free diets,” said Walton. “Some deal with Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Less common is intolerance to high fructose corn syrup or allergy to fish and seafood. Our staff are trained to read labels and prepare food safely avoiding cross-contact with food containing offending allergens or gluten.”

Walton said that the Dining Service staff is trained to safely provide people with allergies their food; however, Alyssa Mclaughlin, a junior criminal justice major, has a gluten intolerance, and does not believe that the dining services safely accommodates someone with celiac disease or a gluten intolerance.

“They only really have two or three options, which is the gluten free pizza, the Mongo Grill and the gluten free bread,” said Mclaughlin. “But the thing is they store the bread within the same area as all the other bread, so it’s already contaminated with gluten. And same with the Mongo Grill, they don’t clean off what they cook with or the spatulas. And with the pizza it’s cooked on the same service so it’s not really considered gluten free.”

According to Ferris’ website, at both the Rock Café and Quad Café, gluten-free wraps, buns, pizza, pasta, and cereal are available upon request for students and guests. They also suggest that for those with celiac disease or a gluten intolerance that students and guests see the menus online for more choices using the allergen filter or ask the manager about the gluten-free options for the day.

Ashlyn Childs, a sophomore welding major, is vegetarian with vegan tendencies and she finds that the plant-based options are not advertised to students enough.

“I think it’s great if you’re willing to go the extra mile to find vegan and vegetarian options, but they are rarely presented to you.”

Childs appreciates the options that are available, but does feel she has to hunt for them while eating on campus. A new member of the plant-based lifestyle, Mollie Hamelund, a sophomore sports communication major and employee at the Rock Café, has trouble finding options she can eat.

Hamelund has been trying to eat vegan and eat less animal products because of her love for animals, and she admits, even with how much time she spends at The Rock Café, she has a hard time finding options to eat.

According to Ferris’ website, at both the Rock Café and Quad Café, vegan and vegetarian soups, entreés, salads, and sandwiches are available. Students can also use the iPads located at the entrances to the dining facilities to look over the options available.

In a Feb. 10, 2010 Torch article headlined, “Vegetarian Food In Dining Halls To Be Expanded” by Antonio Coleman, Coleman described how the Dining Services and Campus Affairs Committee of Student Government was gathering vegan and vegetarian students on campus to discuss the options available to them. The discussion was planned to be held in order to get a different student perspective about the options available at the dining locations Westview and Center Ice that were of the time. In 2010, veggie burgers and vegetarian quesadillas were available to students, and the Rock Café had recently began to provide hummus and tofu.

In 2010, Lori Helmer, director of Dining Services, had discussed with Coleman that she believed the student feedback from the discussion with vegan and vegetarian students on campus would promote both new and current menu items.

According to Food Allergy Research and Education, researchers estimate that 32 million Americans have food allergies, and more than 170 foods have been reported to cause allergic reactions. There are eight major food allergens that are responsible for most of the serious food allergy reactions in the United States: dairy, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, wheat, soy, fish and crustacean shellfish.

“We are hoping to find ways to do a more effective job of marketing the vegan and vegetarian products that are currently on the menu,” said Helmer.

For more information about dietary restrictions, nutrition or the Dining Services at Ferris as a whole, visit https:// www.ferris.edu/HTMLS/studentlife/dining/homepage.html Walton can be contacted by students through email at brendawalton@nullferris.edu, or at (231)-591-3747 to set up an appointment.