Story by Sarah Grossman
Photo by Joel Venzke
Everyone needs nutrients to survive. What happens if these nutrients are difficult to come by or have restrictions? What happens if someone is not allowed to care for their own restrictions and must rely on those who attempt to feed over a thousand other students?
At Drake University, those who live on campus must have a meal plan, unless Sodexo has approved otherwise. Meal plans consist of a number of meals and flex dollars, which act as a monetary source. For some students, vegetarians and those with gluten intolerance, it can be difficult to gain the nutrients needed and feel content about the food consumed.
“I only get about 40 grams of protein on the meal plan, so I try to add another 20-30 grams on my own,” said sophomore magazine journalism and international relations sophomore and vegetarian Emily Gregor.
While the meal plan needs to be supplemented occasionally, Sodexo does provide options, even more this year than ever before.
But for some students, these efforts are not successful.
“Just because they give gluten free options doesn’t mean you’ll like those options—it’s the difference between having something to eat and liking it,” said sophomore public relations and marketing major Alyssa Zipperer.
People who have dietary needs have diminished options due to their own preferences.
“I hate salad; it shouldn’t exist. I hate it. That’s been a lot more of a challenge; people say you just eat more salad. I hate it,” said sophomore international relations major Josh Timm.
The students are very understanding of Sodexo’s plight to feed all and make everyone content.
“I understand that they don’t want to make a whole bunch of stuff that is gluten free when other people won’t eat it,” one student said.
Even those who are vegetarian understand the difficulties.
“There’s always a vegetarian option at Hubbell,” Timm said. “It’s not always good, but it’s not always going to be good—they do what they can with what they got.”
Even though students understand the difficulties, it does not change these student’s needs.
“I think Sodexo is doing a great job incorporating options, but it should be easier for students with dietary needs to switch plans or go off one,” Zipperer said. “It’s just a waste of time and money.”
In order for students to change to a commuter plan or live on campus without any plan, they must have a doctor’s note, meet with people from Sodexo and have a meeting with their parents.
“That’s difficult to do when your parents don’t just live right around the corner,” Zipperer said. “They require every student on campus to have a meal plan, even with dietary restrictions. It’s very hard to get off that meal plan because they understandably want to make money.”
Some students are willing to take control of their own dietary needs.
“I don’t want to be forced to eat something just because I have this dietary restriction,” Zipperer said. “I think the solution is to eat in my own room, buy my own groceries. It’s just easiest for me to eat what I want and avoid cross contamination with foods that have gluten in them—which has happened to me before in Hubbell.”
Although a solution would be to care for their own needs, students are accepting that they have to embrace Hubbell and Sodexo.
“It’s a lifestyle change and you just have to live with it,” one student said. “You know what you can and can’t eat. You know, it’s typically college food here.”