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Lack of options in cafeteria difficult for people with religious practices, allergies

By Erin Shriver
On March 9, 2013


After going on numerous college visits, one of the things I enjoyed at Ottawa University was the food. Feel free to call me crazy.

I don’t regret this decision because there are days where I am somewhat impressed and pleased with cafeteria food, but there are others days when I am not as excited. One of the things I have noticed is the lack of options in the cafeteria for people with different food allergies, beliefs and ways of life. And for Catholics, during this Lenten season, the lack of options on Friday’s is a disappointment.

Some common food allergies, according to, are milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, soy and wheat. Although the school does put cards on top of the food line with what is in the meal of the day, I believe many of these products are in most of the food dishes. So what are students to do? Eat cereal without the milk? Have salad every day? If asked, I believe Sodexo should have special meals prepared for people with these allergies.

Beliefs and way of life…now what do I mean by that? I mean vegan and vegetarians. I have some friends that take this “diet” seriously, and are forced to eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, cheese pizza, or salad for every meal because they aren’t given any vegan or vegetarian options. Just to clarify, a vegetarian doesn’t eat meat, fish or poultry but might eat cheese, eggs, yogurt or milk. A vegan, according to, is self-committed to upholding a personal standard of living where animals are concerned. The vegan will go beyond eliminating meat, dairy and animal products, to become an activist for animal rights. So what is there for them to eat?

Lastly, it’s Lent, people! There are many students here at Ottawa that do practice this and follow the discipline and tradition of no meat on Friday until Easter. Yes, Sodexo has changed every Friday to “Fish Friday,” but fish gets a little repetitive. There are other things that don’t have meat in it, so why don’t we try to switch it up. Let’s look at a recent meal that was served on a Friday. There was: 1) tater tot casserole-meat, 2) beans-no meat, 3) bratwursts-meat, and 4) veggies-no meat. So Catholics were left to eat beans and veggies? Sounds like a solid meal to me…not.

Yes, Sodexo has put the fish Friday’s into action, but we need a change – we can’t eat fish that much without getting sick of it. I am even more concerned about the vegans, vegetarians and people with food allergies. What are they to do? Should they go to the store and buy meals for themselves? That is a waste of money spent for a meal plan they never use because, quite frankly, they can’t.

I think Sodexo has been doing a better job of switching up their meals and giving more options on some days, but are they thinking about the people who might not eat like them? I think they need to add more options to both lines. There is plenty of room to add things to the second line; pizza and grilled cheeses don’t take up much space. Maybe they could even add options to the salad bar.

Switch some stuff up. Give us more options. If we went to a state school, we probably wouldn’t have to even lay eyes on the same meal for a month. I know that is harder to do here because we have fewer students, but we need to start thinking about broadening out meals, making some changes, and thinking about the people who can’t eat or are allergic to the food Sodexo serves us every day. Everyone needs to eat. It’s sad to think that some people can’t do that in their own cafeteria because there aren’t any options that cater to them.

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