Section: News

Dietary restrictions violated

By Katherine King

Recent incidents of mislabeling and mishandling foods in the servery at Peirce Hall have thrown a spotlight on Peirce’s ability to accommodate vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free students.

On Oct. 19, Drew Fulton ’17, a vegetarian, ate miso soup from the vegetarian station that had shrimp in it. “I was so angry,” she said. “I hope that they’re being more careful now.” Fulton was also aware of a similar incident that occurred several weeks prior. “There was even meat lasagna in the vegetarian section … and my friend went up and gave it back to them … and they’re [the AVI staff] like, ‘Don’t worry, only three people took it,’” she said.

The tofu buldak served on Oct. 27 had traces of chicken, according to a post on the Peirce Hall Facebook page by Sarah Grace Spurgin ’17. “I have only been vegetarian for about two years now, so I have eaten plenty of meat in the past,” Spurgin wrote in an email to the Collegian. “But now I feel uneasy and am more wary when serving myself, even at vegetarian line.”

The admisintrators of the Peirce Hall page posted public apologies on Facebook regarding both the seafood miso soup and the tofu buldak.

Kim Novak, resident director of AVI, hadn’t heard about the meat lasagna but was apologetic about the recent difficulties. “We so apologize … because our vegetarian population is very important, very vocal and we want to accommodate them, and we can,” Novak said. “We have had a series of meetings with our employees. We have discussed the definition of vegetarian, omnivore … and also a vegan.” She said she hopes to have a few classes for employees each semester on the subject.

Novak has also been educating Peirce dining staff on the needs of gluten-free students as well as other medical conditions, allergies and dietary preferences, citing the salad bar as a way to accommodate students with dietary restrictions. Currently, one side of the salad bar contains no animal products so that there is little risk of contamination for vegetarians or vegans. “Some people think it’s really simple to know what’s vegetarian, but there’s some in’s and out’s to it,” Novak said. 

There has also been the occasional mislabeling of gluten-free food. Jack Clayton ’17, who has Celiac disease, accidentally ate a dish with couscous in it because it was mislabeled as gluten-free; fortunately, his reaction was not severe. However, Clayton generally finds that there are enough options for gluten-free students in Peirce. “The labeling system works really well … [the AVI staff] is really friendly and easy to approach,” he said.

Joia Felton ’17 emphasized the willingness of AVI workers to help gluten-free students. “It’s always helpful to reach out to Chef Meagan [Worth-Cappell],” she said. Her main wish is that food at special events and all-campus picnics be labeled better. “Last year during Thanksgiving, they didn’t label anything, and I did have a reaction then,” Felton said.


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