Gluten and allergy free station to open in Fresh Food Co.

Monica Kast

Fresh Food Company in Downing Student Union will be opening a gluten-free and allergy-free station, offering more options for students with dietary restrictions.

On Tuesday, Sept. 13 the station hosted a tasting, offering several options that will be available when the station opens permanently. Simple Selections, the name of the gluten-free and allergy-free station, will be undergoing construction throughout this semester.

Food served at Simple Selections will not contain peanuts, eggs, gluten, dairy, shellfish, soy, wheat or tree nuts, according to information from the WKU Restaurant Group.

On Tuesday, the Simple Selections station served honey-roasted chickpeas, fruit salad and quinoa salad.

Brandi Breden, a registered dietician nutritionist on campus, said that this station came about because of an increase in the number of requests for gluten-free and allergy-free foods.

“I’ve just noticed that there’s been more and more food requests from parents of incoming freshman and from students,” Breden said.

Breden said that Simple Selections will have food options prepared separate from the rest of the food in Fresh Food Company, in order to “reduce the risk of cross contamination.” There will also be a hot and cold food bar, induction burners and soup stations in the area, according to Breden.

According to Gary Meszaros, assistant vice president of business and auxiliary services, construction will be ongoing throughout the semester, especially over fall break, to get the station open as quickly as possible.

“We’re trying to get that finished this semester,” Meszaros said of Simple Selections.

The station will be located on the right side of Fresh Food Company, in an alcove that formerly housed seating. Breden said that she and others working on this project felt it was a “perfect use of the space.”

Matt Davis, coordinator of the Student Accessibility Resource Center, works with Breden when students have dietary restrictions on campus.

“This is going to be so much easier than having students pick and choose foods from other stations,” Davis said.

Davis added that he felt the separate station would make students with food allergies feel more comfortable, and less likely to accidentally encounter their allergies when eating at Fresh Food Company.

According to Breden, there are already meals being planned for Simple Selections, which will be on a “two or three week cycle.” She said that desserts were the most difficult to plan, but they had found several recipes already.

Summer Spillman, a dietetics graduate student from Richmond, said they began working on finding recipes for the tasting a few weeks ago, as well as promoting it on social media and around campus. Spillman, a WKU dietetics intern, worked with Breden and other students in the program to find options for the station.

“Just today, people were really excited about this opening,” Spillman said.

Spillman said that even if a student didn’t have an allergy, most of them knew of someone on campus who did, and seemed excited to pass on the information about Simple Selections.

Reporter Monica Kast can be reached at 270-745-6011 or [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter at @monicakastwku.