By Eliana DeGlopper, Features Contributor
Imagine it is a Sunday: you and your friends have decided to go to the grocery store to purchase some food for the week. Upon your arrival, you browse the millions of options, but when you get to the register you are told you can not purchase any of the items you’ve grabbed.
Imagine you are out to eat with your family and order your dinner, but when everyone gets their food served, the waiter tells you they were unable to accommodate you and you will not be able to eat.
Imagine being on a college campus…
What exactly is preventing you from enjoying simple pleasures such as grocery shopping or eating, that others take for granted? Dietary restrictions and food allergies. Being vegan, gluten free, dairy free, vegetarian, etc.
Canisius College feeds students via Chartwells Dining service at dining hall, the Pick Up Spot, Shoppe 120, the Market, Starbucks and Tim Hortons. Exactly how many of these places can make accommodations for people with Celiac disease or lactose intolerance?
One of the best parts about Canisius is the employees, and I have never been shown otherwise. Luckily, with some effort and communication, students can contact the wonderful Chartwells employees and chefs (such as Judy from the Market, and Andrea, Tyree, Mike and Frank from Chartwells) to figure out how to accommodate your diet. Dining Hall offers a vegan section, although small. For students who are gluten free, they have gluten-free bread and pasta available. If you communicate with the staff, it is generally easy to accommodate. The staff has been incredible the past year helping me, a student with severe dietary restrictions, to be able to eat normally again. They have made it possible for me to know where my next meal is coming from and have made a world of difference in my day-to-day life. Their kindness has not gone unnoticed.
Similarly, Judy — who manages the Market — can accommodate with gluten-free rolls and pasta, as long as a student speaks with her and figures out what they want for the week. She was also instrumental in feeding me when most other places on campus could not. Additionally, Judy has a dedicated gluten-free section in the Market where gluten-free snacks, including a delicious gluten-free brownie, are located. I am extremely grateful. Shoppe 120 has some smoothies that do not inherently have dairy in it, and occasionally tea. It is amazing that the staff has been so accommodating to food allergies, but is this enough?
The fact is, despite the kindness of these accommodations, it still leaves students with restrictions in a pickle when it comes to on-the-go, late-night or non-planned meals.
Tim Hortons cannot accommodate any dietary restrictions, and it is one of the largest places other than D-Hall to obtain food on campus. They do not have gluten-free options available.
The Pick Up not only eliminated 1/3 of the offerings they had last year (which included one of the only gluten free items — chicken with rice), they also do not provide any gluten-free alternatives like bread or pasta, meaning the entire menu cannot be consumed by a student with celiac or gluten sensitivity.
Shoppe 120 does not provide students who are lactose intolerant a way to enjoy ice cream or milkshakes without becoming sick. There are also almost no gluten-free desserts available. The Starbucks in Science Hall also has no gluten-free options, either; however, they do offer dairy-free alternatives in their drinks!
If a student who is gluten-free wants to eat, on the campus where they live, and needs to eat three times a day, they have two options: one option is only open Monday through Friday until 4, and the meals have to be pre-ordered, so you are unable to “grab and go” as other students do. The second option is D-hall, which is only open until 7 or 8 at night depending on the day, which makes it difficult if you have a busy schedule or night class.
This means that if you have certain dietary restrictions and want to eat after 8, you cannot. If you are working at night or in a night class/lab, you cannot order from the Pick Up after hours due to lack of accommodation. If you are in the library and need to eat, best of luck, as you cannot have something from Tim Hortons. If you are at Health Science for class and need something for lunch, the nearest dining option is Starbucks, but unfortunately you cannot eat there as they do not have gluten-free sandwiches or wraps or desserts. Do you want a late-night snack with your friends? No ice cream or brownies for you. Alternatively, you may have to spend your own money to have groceries delivered, spend time you do not have to cook; meanwhile, your peers can eat wherever and whenever they want without a second thought.
As the world changes, colleges adapt. Many colleges have made leaps and bounds in acknowledging the prominence of food allergies and dietary restrictions. Although we are off to a good start at Canisius with the help of the Market and dining hall, there is a lot of work to be done in other areas of campus to accommodate any number of students with dietary restrictions.
Let’s do this Griffs.
People For and With Others (who have dietary restrictions).