Alternative foods on the menu at King’s

University does best to accommodate students with dietary restrictions

The cafeteria at the University of King’s College offers some off-menu items in an effort to meet the special dietary needs of students. (Photo: Lily Sangster)

When it comes to eating at the University of King's College, most students have two options: the cafeteria or the Wardroom canteen.

And for students who can't eat certain foods - because of allergies, religious or ethical reasons - grabbing a quick bite on the way to class can be more complicated.

All King's first-year students who live in residence must buy the meal plan and, if they want something different, students of all years must go to neighbouring Dalhousie University or off campus.

"Campus food leaves a lot to be desired," says Samantha Levy, a fourth-year political science and contemporary studies student. Levy says she limits herself to occasional purchases from the Wardroom canteen or to veggie dogs from the Dawgfather, a street vendor on University Avenue.

Levy, a vegetarian for nearly ten years, says living on campus was difficult because she wasn't able to buy her own food and cook for herself. She prefers spices and herbs, and found the "fried food and cream sauces" at the cafeteria unappealing.

Third-year English and early modern studies student Naomi Cooperman had many of the same problems.

Cooperman, who describes herself as an "observant conservative" Jew, wasn't able to eat meat dishes served in the dining hall because she couldn't know if they were kosher.

"I can't live on residence food anymore," she says. "I like to eat meat," which explains her decision to live off-campus after first year. Now, when she does eat on campus, she chooses vegetarian dishes.

Sodexo defends itself

A Sodexo official, the food service provider at King's, says the company does its best to meet the special dietary needs of students.

Staff cook off-menu items almost every day for students who can't eat from the regular menu or just want something different, says Tim Ross, director of conference and catering services for Sodexo.

Finding suitable foods for lactose-intolerant students has been challenging. Ross spent two months trying to find dairy-free ice cream.

Rachel Max, a third-year history student, is allergic to a variety of foods, including peanuts, chickpeas, wheat and a protein found in dairy products. Despite this, she was able to eat in the King's cafeteria for a year without any major problems.

"I got to know the chefs and the staff and eventually when I walked into the room they'd tell me what I could and couldn't have. Sometimes they'd make something up for me that was made aside from everything else."

Now that she lives off campus and doesn't have a meal-plan, she brings all her food from home. She says the fast-food choices at Dalhousie don't provide her with a lot of options when it comes to eating on campus. "I can buy tea, but that's pretty much all that I can have."

Whether they stem from culture, choice or health - Max, Levy and Cooperman have all learned to deal with their food restrictions.

 

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