Special dietary needs in Sodexo

sodexoMacy Sliman, Staff Writer

   There have been quite a few changes going on around campus lately. One of the more recent changes has been what has been going on in the Sodexo cafeteria. A specific adjustment they are making is their variety of choices when it comes to the special dietary menu to accommodate diets such as veganism, vegetarianism, lactose intolerance, gluten intolerance and celiac disease.

   Not only are more and more people choosing different eating habits, but more are even being diagnosed with various allergies, such as lactose and gluten intolerance or celiac disease, which is an allergy to wheat and wheat products. Through Sodexo’s partnership with the school and, even more so, the students, they are becoming more aware of the needs of the students and are changing accordingly.

   Wendy Blackburn, Sous-Chef for Sodexo, has a passion for all special dietary students that fuels this need for change in the Sodexo cafeteria menu. She specifically supports and pushes for the vigilance of specially prepared foods in the dietary needs section of her job. Her intense hard work and those of the staff of Sodexo have been going to great lengths in order to make sure all special dietary needs are met.

   “It is not specifically my gluten-free that I spoil; it’s all my special dietary needs students. All I can think about is sending my children far away to school and them not having what they need, such as food.”

   Wendy is not only a strong advocate for the special diet folks here on campus, but she herself has a special dietary plan. Coming this November she will have been gluten free for a year and strongly encourages others to choose their food choices wisely. Not only is being gluten free an allergy, but it is also a healthier lifestyle, in her opinion.

   The changes that Sodexo has undergone over the past couple of years in order to accommodate the gluten free allergy included first educating the staff on how to deal with allergies specifically. This began with changing all the sauces and prepackaged seasonings, as well as gloves and utensil changes in order to prevent cross contamination. Prepackaged types of food products are normally made with wheat or wheat products and highly processed, thus making them hazardous to those who suffer from celiac disease.

   “The staff in the cafeteria know who each of the special dietary students are and make sure to seek us out in order to make sure we are taken care of and that we have something to eat. That is an extremely rare and heartwarming thing to me,” said Brianne Canino, one special dietary need student who was diagnosed with celiac disease a little over four years ago.

   While there are still things the cafeteria is in the process of changing, they should still be commended for their drive to commit to the needs of each student. Not only do they seek out individuals with special dietary needs, they also hold meetings in order to provide opportunities for the students to be heard.