Starting at the beginning of the spring semester, ARAMARK implemented various changes in the cafeteria. ARAMARK is the food service company at John Carroll that is responsible for all dining options. The most notable of these changes is the switch to the MyPlate diagram as a nutritional guide. The MyPlate diagram, like the MyPyramid before it, is a guide to help students make sure they get proper nutrition at each meal. The dining staff has also put more emphasis on buying locally and works with 54 vendors within a 250-mile radius of Cleveland.
Despite all of these changes, there are still some issues that JCU Dining is not addressing. There are few options for students who have celiac disease or choose to follow a gluten-free diet. Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder of the small intestine, and gluten exacerbates the symptoms of severe discomfort and diarrhea. While the cafeteria does offer some gluten-free options, there are not many, and dining services should be doing all they can to accommodate those with dietary needs, such as making a separate station for gluten-free options so cross-contamination does not occur.
Dining services says that this is something that they plan on doing in the future, but it should be more of a priority. Students with such allergies find it hard to have a variety in what they are eating because there are either few gluten-free options offered, or they are worried that the options that are available are going to be contaminated. It is important that these students also have access to proper nutrition.
Having a food allergy is never easy and it is especially difficult when you have to eat the same thing every day in order to know you aren’t eating anything that could make you sick. JCU Dining has done a lot to make sure that students with regular dietary needs have access to proper food nutrition, but now it is time to make sure that students with special dietary needs are able to eat in the cafeteria and don’t have to worry about having the same thing day in and day out. Everyone deserves a little variety in their meals.
Currently, there is a map in the dining hall that shows the different cities in Ohio where ARAMARK purchases the food. This is a good starting point for supporting local business, but it should go further to be more transparent about where exactly the food is produced.
For example, it would be nice to know if the food came from a farm or a large distributor, rather than just the city in general. This would be beneficial for students to know when making nutritional choices, and also helps promote the small local businesses that provide the food.