Surviving College with Special Dietary Requirements

Written by Kristen Wade, Class of 2019

Campus meals are an important part of every student’s college experience. While some students worry about gaining the “freshman 15,” others worry if they’ll be able to find any meals that accommodate their special dietary needs.

At Etown, we take our food seriously. Our Dining Services staff strives to provide healthy and delicious meals to all of our students, even those who are gluten free, lactose intolerant or allergic to certain foods. We have a team of staff members dedicated to serving the needs of our students. Check out our food accommodations to see how our meal options will fit into your special diet.

How to Receive Accommodations

We are more than happy to help you navigate your special diet on campus, as long as you let us know in advance. Our dining accommodations are intended for students with medical circumstances that require special dietary needs. If your special diet is a personal choice, rather than a medical requirement, we will review the foods in our cafeteria to help you better understand the meals that fit your eating habits. Here are the steps you should take to make sure your dietary requirements are followed on campus.

1. Register with Health Services

Alerting us of your special dietary need allows us to prepare accommodations. After registering your need, you will receive special instructions in your first year packet. You’ll meet with Lynne Davies, Director of Disabilities Services who will review any notes you have from medical professionals and determine your needs. You may also register for accommodations after arriving on campus. The sooner you alert us of your needs the better we’ll be able to set up accommodations.

2. Set Up a Meeting with Our Director of Dining Services

In the meeting with Eric Turzai, Director of Dining Services, you’ll further discuss your special dietary needs. This allows us to better understand any restrictions and ensure that your meals are prepared properly. We’ll be able to create a personalized diet and discuss our current menu to see how our food options will fit into your diet.

"Our goal is to make students self sufficient,” Turzai said. “We want them to be comfortable asking questions about the foods in our cafeteria, so that they'll be better prepared to make decisions about the foods they eat when they leave campus and enter the real world."

After being thoroughly educated on our special meal options and the risks of contamination in public food settings, you’ll be ready to enjoy healthy campus meals.

Our Dietary Accommodations

After reviewing requests for accommodations, you may pre-order food items, receive specially prepared food items, or receive items with menu substitutions. Nutritional information for all foods on our menus can be reached by contacting Dining Services.

Gluten Free Accommodations for Students

We offer alternative food options and accommodations for students who suffer from Celiac Disease or are gluten free for other reasons. Meals for gluten free students are prepared in advance and stored in a gluten free setting to avoid contamination. Most of the items at our salad bar are gluten free, except for the croutons and occasional pasta salads. Gluten free dressings are labeled. Other gluten free food options include: gluten free breads, some of our assorted soups, gluten free pizza and various entrees prepared gluten free.

Accommodations for Students with Dairy Allergies

Students with dairy allergies can request to have meals prepared in advance in an allergy-free space. We offer soy milk and almond milk alternatives for these students in our main cafeteria. We can also prepare many entrees without dairy products, as long as arrangements are made in advance. Most of the items on our salad bar, aside from certain dressings, cheeses, and pasta salads are free of dairy products. Dairy free students should check with Dining Services staff for specific information about our daily entrees and items at our soup, dessert and other stations.

Accommodations for Students with Peanut or Tree Nut Allergies

Students with nut allergies will have access to an allergy free dining space. The space also includes appliances to store and prepare foods. Meals for these students will be prepared in advance and stored in allergy-free settings to ensure foods are not contaminated.

Nutritious Meal Options

Our Healthy Jay Program educates students about healthy eating habits. Our weekly Healthy Jay menu is designed by our Chef and directs students toward healthy food options that can be found in our regular cycle menu. Dining Services has complete nutritional information available for all foods served in our on-campus eateries.

Vegetarian, Pescetarian & Vegan Food Options

Though we do not typically offer custom accommodations for vegan, vegetarian and pescetarian students, we work hard to provide food options to meet these diets within our regular menus. Our on-campus organic garden produces vegetables, fruits and herbs which are incorporated into our regular menus in the Marketplace. Vegetarian, pescetarian and vegan options appear daily throughout our rotating menu cycles. Some of these options include: black bean burgers, quinoa pilaf, salad bar and an omelet station.

Have questions about our dining services accommodations and how they’ll fit with your special dietary requirements? Contact Lynne Davies to get your questions answered.

Elizabethtown College