Ohio University Culinary Services offers general accommodations for students with food allergies and preferences.
Culinary Services prioritizes the Big Nine allergies, which include milk, eggs, nuts, fish, crustaceans, shellfish, wheat, soy and sesame.
Angela Bohyer, registered dietitian and nutrition educator of culinary services, said the university focuses on Big Nine accommodations, but it also accommodates vegetarianism, veganism, gluten-free and religious dietary restrictions.
“Margaret's, a concept in The District on West Green (located in Boyd Dining Hall) is gluten-free. No gluten foods are served here and students can eat here without ordering ahead. We can also accommodate food allergies here upon request,” Bohyer wrote in an email.
For special diet requirements, food allergies and GI issues, students must either reach out to Bohyer or they will be directed to her so she can offer assistance, Alex Semancik, a communications specialist, said.
Aside from meeting with students with allergies, Culinary Services also partners with The Allison Rose Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to educating and bringing awareness to those with food allergies. Employees also must undergo annual Allergen Training, Bohyer said.
Semancik said the university receives a lot of positive feedback from parents and students.
However, Grace Chinsky, a sophomore studying nursing, has celiac disease, which is an autoimmune disease that affects a person’s gut when they consume gluten, and she is allergic to nuts and sesame, she said her experience with Culinary Services was not personalized to her needs.
“I did meet with someone before school started, and she kind of just said, ‘You'll find something’” Chinsky said. “There weren't really any options that were dictated strictly toward me. There was nothing I could find that was meant to be gluten-free.”
During her meeting with the nutritionist, the only options for those following a gluten-free diet were Nelson and Boyd Dining Hall’s salad bars and Margaret's.
Bohyer said the Boyd Dining Hall is a nut-free food court, where none of the recipes contain peanuts or tree nuts.
Boyd was the better option in terms of an allergy-free food selection, Chinkey said. However, it was more inconvenient for her due to living in Biddle Hall on East Green, so she often ate in Nelson.
“Nelson doesn't have anything that's strictly gluten-free,” Chinsky said. “It's just the regular food they have, and if something happens to be gluten-free on its own then it is, but they don't have a separate section or anything like that.”
Something Chinsky found helpful was the labeled menus because they helped her distinguish what she could eat.
“I do like that things are kind of labeled on the menu,” Chinsky said. “They have little symbols that mean things, but I think it would be more helpful to kind of reach out to students and … if they can provide things that are a little more targeted to not having those (allergens) in them.”
Bohyer said the dining courts’ nutritional fact label is online or on the OHIO Eats app.
To improve the experience, she would recommend making the experience more personal and specific to each student.
“I would have liked for them to kind of be a facilitator and reach out to some of the staff because that can be kind of a nervous thing to do,” Chinsky said.
Emily Stokes contributed to this report.