Sodexo works to provide solutions for students with food allergies

Sodexo is actively working to offer food options for students with special dietary concerns. (Photo by Amy Lauver)

By Kendra Nixon, Content editor

SNU students may argue that Sodexo doesn’t have a lot to choose from, but could you imagine not being able to eat most of the food not because it tasted bad, but because you would have an allergic reaction?

According to the National Institutes of Health, Univ. of Chicago Celiac Disease Center, between 5% and 10% of all people may suffer from a gluten sensitivity of some form and 1 out of every 133 Americans (about 3 million people) have Celiac Disease. And according to the American Food and Drug Administration, celiac disease is a chronic inflammatory disorder characterized by mucosal damage to the small intestine leading to gastrointestinal illness, nutrient malabsorption, and a wide range of clinical manifestations.

Simply put, there are students here at SNU who cannot eat a majority of what is normally served in Sodexo without having some sort of allergic reaction. However, this is not the first Sodexo has heard of this, which is why they are consistently working on solutions for students who are diabetic, are allergic to gluten or lactose or have any other kind of food allergy.

Wendy Blackburn, Sodexo Sous-Chef, has been making finding solutions a primary goal for the past year and a half. Last year, the Sodexo staff stepped up their efforts to make food without gluten, lactose or any other sort of allergen.

“We prepare alternate pasta made out of rice. I use my own seasoning blends and design a new menu daily,” said Blackburn. “If there is no station with a gluten-free option, we make gluten-free quesadillas made-to-order.”

For those who are lactose intolerant, they provide soymilk and bring in special ingredients for those who are diabetic as well. Stations tag signs and label foods that do not have gluten in them, making it easier for students who have Celiac Disease or those who don’t eat gluten for personal reasons.

“We continue to research recipes and search for vendors who cater to certain food allergens,” said Blackburn. “I see [a growing trend of Celiac Disease] in the future, as well as obesity.”

Sodexo staff, as well as other dining services across the nation, is working on ways to accommodate students with food allergies as well as offer healthier and tastier options. If you have any suggestions for Sodexo, feel free to contact Sodexo’s General Management staff.