News

MC Gets a Gluten-Free Caf

IMG_3221Many students feel the Caf is not performing at its best this year. Aimee Rankin, a junior at MC, is under the impression that the quality of the food has gone down from last year and that it is a bit blander than she remembers it being last fall.

In addition to the elimination of fruity pebbles as an option, the quality of burgers has gone down.

“The pizza is the same. Not good. I try not to eat the pizza. It made me throw up three times,” she added. Many students suggest improvement may be achieved by finding a different food company.

She said, “The service is good, the people are really nice. The drinks are fine. It’s great.” She would rate the food in the Caf an 80/100 on a good day.

Kevin Vollema, a senior, has food allergies including gluten and dairy intolerance. The percentage of students on campus who have specific food needs is not large, but the Caf staff agrees the students are still important enough to accommodate.

Vollema commented, “It’s gotten harder partially because my go- to, the sandwiches, are a lot harder to get because the grill has moved. The burgers becoming cheeseburgers has added time because I can’t have dairy.”

He also noted, “The back of the Caf is so crowded that it makes it hard to get food in a timely manner when time is of the essence.

“I appreciate that there’s always food on hand and I appreciate the fact that they always have spinach at the salad bar. It’d be wonderful if they actually had a gluten free section of the Caf.”

He describes his ideal Caf as a bigger, more open area where he would not be standing around for 30-40 minutes on food because the traffic flow would be improved. He believes that the solution includes renovating and would very much like there to be more places to sit.

The Caf staff has been frustrated yet optimistic about students’ negative feedback. They would like to raise awareness and educate students and the staff on what is edible for those with food allergies.

They are open and willing to do what they can to accommodate any allergies. They are even trying out social media, specifically Twitter, in their sincere effort to instigate better communication with students.

After going to a food show in New Orleans, Ima Hodges was inspired to take a class: Gluten-Free Training for Dining Services Professionals in association with the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness. Hodges is the Food Production Manager at MC and purchases food for a majority of on-campus dining.

In the weekly meetings with the staff, Hodges discussed different ideas and research from different schools who are offering gluten-free items and how to distinguish gluten-free items.

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In the future, the Caf hopes to have a different setup online.  More nutritional facts will appear and students will be able to see the GF mark on different items in the Caf.

Gluten-free breads, balsamic vinaigrette, Chex cereal, deli meats, yogurt, grilled chicken, almond milk, soy milk, rice, potatoes are some examples of the foods currently available in the Caf for people with food sensitivities.

Food Services has been trying to be a little more creative with what they can offer as well. They say that constructive criticism would be most helpful to them and greatly appreciated.

It is impossible to read people’s minds all the time, so instead they need to be told what students do enjoy eating and would like to see made more often. If you have a favorite dish from your hometown or country, the Caf staff would love to make it for you.

The long anticipated “All you can eat” style of cafeteria is hopefully to become a reality here next semester, but right now they are still in the process of preparing for it.

Bethany Kuhn, Reporter

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