By Vivian Roach | Desk Editor
Campus dining services have a big responsibility, filling in for the warm, home-cooked meals students leave behind after going to college. On top of that, they have to accommodate for special dietary needs of students who may be managing their restrictions for their first time without the help of family.
Taylor Beard, Baylor’s on-campus registered dietician, said it is the student’s responsibility to let her and the serving staff know about food intolerances, but she tries to be regularly available.
“I usually keep in contact with students through email. I’m also in the dining halls often doing various nutrition events. Many students will talk to me then,” Beard said. “I’m also available to meet with students in person or on Microsoft Teams [with an appointment] as much as they need.”
Dining services also tells students they may ask a dining employee to change gloves before serving them or use a new utensil if they have an allergy, and students may also request salad bar and deli station ingredients from behind the bar. They caution against choosing fried foods and bakery items because it’s hard for dining staff not to cross contaminate foods in the frying oil or bakery.
The dining website suggests that students direct questions about any doubts or ingredients in menu items to Beard or the manager on duty.
Online menus for the dining services venues designate vegan and vegetarian foods with a leaf icon. Eat Well, Whole Grains and Plant Forward options are also designated with an icon.
These food restrictions don’t help the repetitiveness some students may feel after coming from the dining halls for what seems like the 500th time. Beard said though she tries to stay updated on food trends, Aramark has a whole team of people who are committed to variety on menus.
“I try to keep up with food trends just to get a feel for what may be popular, wanted by students,” Beard said. “But Aramark also has a whole team of chefs and dietitians who constantly work to develop new recipes, to make sure our menus are as varied and nutritional as possible.”
If there’s something you want to see in the dining halls, Beard said she asks students to tell her any suggestions for new menu options.
Dexter, Mich., freshman Grace Cusick said she is gluten-free but thinks the dining halls have a good variety of options.
“I usually just stick with foods I know I can eat, like the salads, so I never try any of the special things they put in the menu. Other than that, I haven’t really had that many difficulties,” Cusick said.
Late Night at Penland Crossroads already has restricted options. Beard said students are still welcome to ask a manager to find something that fits their dietary needs.
“At Late Night, our grill and produce bars are open, which are often good stations for those with restrictions,” Beard said. “We also typically have our pizza, deli and dessert stations open as well. We are still able to make accommodations for students at late night based on requests.”
Austin junior Kennedi Baskett said her freshman year she made her own “Chipotle bowl” at 1845 at Memorial dining hall.
“At the flying saucer station, I would ask for everything in a bowl instead of a tortilla. You don’t have to wait for them to cook it on the grill either,” Baskett said. “It’s like a Chipotle bowl, it’s extremely helpful if you’re trying to cut back on carbs or you’re gluten-free.”