In the wise words of Miguel de Cervantes in “Don Quixote,” “All sorrows are less with bread.” Unless you’re gluten-free (GF): then your sorrows seem to multiply. Haley Muyskens, a sophomore biology-health professions major, dealt with the struggle of finding GF food in the caf last year.
“I had a lot of chicken and cereal,” Muyskens said. Haley was diagnosed with celiac disease when she was a junior in high school and found it hard to adjust to the new diet. “I don’t want people to accommodate for me just because I’m the only one that can’t eat gluten,” Muyskens said.
Luckily for her and other GF students, Northwestern has opened up a station specifically for gluten- and nut-free students.
MyZone, a Sodexo instituted program, was very recently put into action. Drake University was the first college to adopt it. After NW’s food service manager, Ned Price, visited Drake and recognized the value of an allergy-friendly zone, he decided to bring the idea back to NW. Price, who has worked for college food service since 1991, says that there have been a lot of positive responses to MyZone.
“I really like MyZone, because I can have the same food here that I do at home,” Muyskens said. She specifically commented on how good the toast and brownies are.
When asked why he decided to implement this program, Price explained that the number of students with food allergies has grown over the past few years, and he wants those students to feel included without being singled out.
“The kids love it. It gives them a sense of knowing that there is something here to eat every meal,” Price said. “It really increases the breakfast offerings to the GF students.”
In addition to better meeting students’ needs, MyZone has helped resolve the issue of cross-contamination for students with allergies. Price encouraged students without allergies to be respectful of the MyZone station, reserving MyZone’s microwave and toaster for students with allergies. He also commented that if students have recipes their parents make them at home, the caf would be happy to look at them. In fact, one of the desserts they are going to serve was founded at a faculty-staff contest on National Hot Dog Day. Second place dessert winner Jill Haarsma, President Greg Christy’s administrative assistant, made a GF dessert that will be coming to the caf.
NW has really stepped up its game when it comes to the student dining experience. From the gluten- and nut-free zone to the new arrangement of the ice cream and cereal stations, NW’s campus dining center is looking out for the best interests of its students.