Dining on the Hill: Students with restrictions want more options

Kalee Chism

Chick-fil-A, Papa John’s, Steak ’n Shake—great restaurant options for a late night binge or quick bite to eat between classes, but not the most accommodating ones for students with dietary restrictions. So what options do students who are vegetarian, vegan, diabetic or gluten-free have?

Depending on each student’s restrictive needs, there are many options available on campus. However, students are saying they need more options that accommodate specifically with the meal plans. 

Sydney Bickett, a junior from Louisville, has mild sensitivity to gluten and severe sensitivity to eggs. Because of this, Bickett has had trouble finding food options on campus that comply with the meal plans.

“There was no way to eat on campus and be able to have a meal plan. I switched to Dining and Big Red Dollars, which were much more manageable,” Bickett said. “WKU could really use a better variety of what is included in a meal plan because it was $9 for me to eat on campus.” 

By encountering a variety of different food options for students and faculty with restrictions, individuals would be able to follow their diet plans and accommodate their health limitations with more ease.

Rachel  Wallace, a junior from Owensboro with gluten and dairy sensitivity, moved off campus to make meals that would accommodate her health plan at a lower expense. 

“There weren’t very many options on campus, which was hard and is the main reason I decided to live off campus this year because it made it hard to follow through with not eating what I’m not supposed to,” Wallace said.

Some students follow a gluten-free diet, which is harder to come by in campus dining options than vegan or vegetarian. These students have come up with a few ideas they think would make campus dining easier for those with certain dietary needs.

“If WKU could put grilled nuggets on the Chick-fil-A menu, that would’ve helped me a lot last year since it’s gluten-free. Or put more gluten-free options on any menu on campus really,” Wallace said.

Meat-free options are much easier to find while dining on campus than other diet-restricted options; a vegan and vegetarian guide can even be found on WKU’s website. 

Halley Neace, a sophomore from Centerville, Ohio, avoids eating meat whenever possible and believes it isn’t very difficult to find vegetarian choices.

“I think that WKU does fine with having a lot of different options for people that (sic) don’t eat meat,” Neace said. “I eat DaVinci’s, RedZone, Burrito Bowl and Einstein’s. I mostly just eat soups or sandwiches that don’t have meat in them.” 

WKU is working to add more choices for all restrictions and to give students healthier dining options. On WKU’s Campus Dish website, there is a nutritional calculator, a food comparison scale and many other tools to help students make better meal choices. 

WKU dietitian Brandi Breden is willing to work with all students to find more campus dining options that work with their specific needs. The WKU health and fitness lab is offering one-hour nutritional counseling appointments for $15.

“One thing that I love is when a student contacts me one-on-one, and we go on a walking tour through campus dining. We look at labels and recipes, and [I] introduce them to the chefs and managers so that they can work with their specific needs,” Breden said. “I love to encourage the students to meet their food service workers and feel comfortable with their food service workers.”