Does nutrition in Baylor cafeterias pass muster?

    Photo Illustraiton by Meagan Downing | Lariat Photographer

    By Holly Renner

    Baylor Dining Services is offering more food choices, such as an increased variety of vegetables and gluten-free options in the dining halls.

    Baylor senior Laurie Van Dyk said she noticed the Penland Food Court has improved food options over the past two years by offering more nutrient-dense vegetables.

    “In their salad bar, instead of offering just regular green lettuce, they are offering spinach in addition,” she said. “There are more vegetable options in their salad bar such as broccoli, cauliflower and even roasted barley.”

    Dining services also has recently introduced gluten-free options, including the 11 minimum standards for gluten-free options, which became available Monday.

    The 11 minimum standards include pizza crust, tortillas, pasta, soy sauce, teriyaki sauce, marinara, grilled chicken breast, two cereal options, two bread options, burger buns, and one dessert selection.

    “We are trying to have a standard where people don’t have to go out of their way to get food that is specialized to their diet,” said Brett Perlowski, resident district manager for Baylor dining services. “As a gluten-free student, you will be able to get what you need.”

    Jessica Gallippo, unit-marketing manager for Baylor Dining Services said the Memorial Dining Hall has been offering gluten-free options for the past two years.

    The Memorial Dining Hall refrigerator, which was made available last fall contains breads, desserts, pasta and other items.

    Students are also able to get gluten-free pizza upon request at the Penland Food Court, Collins Cafe and Memorial Dining Hall.

    Though all the dining halls have vegan options, the demand for vegan options is less than the demand for gluten-free options, senior food service director James Wharton said.

    “We had a couple vegans last year and we had to make sure there was no beef base,” Wharton said. “But there is not a high demand for vegan meals.”

    Beef base is used to add flavor to food items such as hamburgers and certain pasta dishes, and it dissolves when you cook it with food.

    According to Gallippo, vegan and vegetarian dishes are always labeled.

    Conway senior Caroline Arnold, who is a vegan, said the food selection for vegans is lacking.

    “I could only eat salads and soy milk, and I never eat salads,” Arnold said. “Salads are not my favorite food.”

    Gallippo said students with food allergies or specific food preferences are encouraged to meet with a staff member of Dining Services so they can be shown around the dining hall to become familiarized with the food options. She said asking questions about food is a daily habit for people with dietary restrictions.

    On the Baylor dining services website, students can see information about the food served that day. The ingredients list for the foods are not available, but food nutrition content information, such as calories, protein, carbohydrates, cholesterol, sodium, fiber, total fat, and saturated fat, is available.

    The amount of sugar used is excluded. Nutritional information for each food item is not available in the dining halls.

    “The CampusDish dining website is currently a website that is used at all Aramark dining accounts across the country,” Gallippo said. “We will be looking into options to increase the nutritional information provided online, including the option to show the sugar content.”

    Chengdu sophomore Siyao Li said she checks the website on occasion for the dining halls’ time schedule.

    “I know they post it online, but I don’t bother to check the nutritional values because I just don’t feel it’s necessary,” she said. “You sort of just know what’s healthy and what’s not. You can judge for yourself what you should eat.”

    Li said if the information were posted in the dining halls, it would probably influence the foods she chooses.

    “We try to make it as simple as possible, and it isn’t a priority for a student to stay on the website and look up nutritional information,” Wharton said. “But it is a priority for us to get the information out to the students.”

    Arnold said that having the nutritional information online is inconvenient due to the time it takes to check the information.

    With a variety of options available in the dining halls, students make the ultimate decision on what they will eat.

    “The variety is always there. Whether students want hot dogs and hamburgers or our 8-foot salad bar, fresh fruit or a healthy stir-fry, it’s up to them what they choose,” Gallippo said.