By: Alise Jarmusz – Asst. News Editor
University of Dayton Dining Services has added an allergen-friendly zone to the list of facilities available to students, according to Joan Bauman, dining services’ administrative dietitian.
Bauman said Mary Eilbeck, associate director of residential dining services, came up with the idea to have a room where “students could come and get specialty food items that are allergen-friendly.”
The allergen-friendly room, which opened in August, is located in Marycrest room 154.
“[The room] used to be [Eilbeck’s] office. She gave it up, and the students that are using it are very thankful,” Bauman said.
In order to use the facility, students, faculty and staff must first meet with Bauman to discuss their individual food allergy.
“They have to see me first and tell me about their food allergy and why they need the room,” Bauman explained. “Then I meet them at the room and show them how everything works.”
Around 12 students signed up to use the facility, which sells food products made for people with particular allergies.
“There are a lot of gluten-free items. We also have some students who can’t have dairy, so there is dairy-free cheese and cream cheese, and there are different types of milk such as rice milk, soy milk, almond milk,” Bauman explained.
To protect those who have a nut allergy, Bauman said, “There are no nuts allowed in the room.”
According to Bauman, the allergen-friendly zone is self-serve and includes a checkout area. Students can even use their meal plan to buy items.
“Everything scans with a barcode, so they just scan their items and swipe their card,” she said. “Everything is priced similarly to an equivalent item that is sold in any of the other dining hall units.”
In addition to the food products, the room houses two toasters (one for gluten free bread, and one for other bread), a microwave, refrigerator, freezer and dishwasher.
Recently, a pizza cooker was added.
“A month or so ago, due to a student request, we added a pizza cooker. We have some frozen pizzas that are gluten free or dairy free, and now [students] can get their pizza and cook it all in that room,” Bauman said.
Bauman also said Dining Services hopes to further develop the services offered in the allergy-friendly zone.
“We would like to expand to have some special meals at some point. Maybe prepared by a chef and served at a certain time, but we are not to that point yet,” she explained.
According to Bauman, it is the students who will decide what changes will be made.
“Mostly, it is up to the students,” she said. “We have a whiteboard and notebooks where they can leave notes about things they need. So it is really going to come down to what students want and need.”
Bauman said feedback from students has been completely positive so far.
“They are so thankful that they have somewhere to go where they have the foods that they use at home. They can still have that here and it is available any time that they need it,” she explained.
Logan O’Keefe, a junior pre-medicine major and nut allergy sufferer, believes this addition to campus is very beneficial to students.
“I think it is a wonderful idea. So many times I wonder if I can have some of the prepared foods [in the dining hall], and having a guarantee that I’m safe when eating is fantastic,” she said. “It eases my mind.”
O’Keefe also believes the facility will directly aid students with gluten allergies. She said the room would give students more options to choose from when eating in the dining halls.
For more information on Marycrest’s allergy-friendly zone, contact Joan Bauman at (937) 229-2446, or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.