Students with food allergies frustrated with Cabrini’s menu

By Victoria Giordano
October 2, 2021

Photo from the “Dining” website

Cabrini University is not meeting the needs of students with food allergies, students and faculty say. 

Most of the foods served at Cabrini consist of certain ingredients most students can’t eat without them knowing. With those limited food options at the Grill and Cavs Corner, it’s getting harder for students to choose what to eat and what not to eat. 

“I thought it was taken care of,” Errol Hite, “Grill” supervisor, said. “We should be following guidelines.”

According to Alerje, 220 million people worldwide suffer from severe food allergies. This situation has become a more serious problem over the years – so bad that Alerje says it’s turned into a global epidemic.

Cabrini’s cafeteria food comes from Sodexo Dining Services. Sodexo is very well-known for serving foods to a majority of school district cafeterias. Under their Food Allergen Prodecure, they list 14 major common allergens and have strict orders on hand-washing and checking the recipes to prevent cross-contamination. Although some have proven Cabrini does not follow these guidelines and has severe cross-contamination. 

Photo from “The 14 Food Allergens” website

Caroline Duke, double criminology and business major, explained how the school informed her on them cleaning cooking utensils and foods at night. Then they cook food throughout the day and do not clean again until nighttime. She also mentioned how the employees do not change gloves nor wash their hands often, including that they cook all the foods in peanut oil. If all the food is cooked in peanut oil, students with peanut allergies and other severe allergies may unlikely eat the cafeteria foods. 

“When I had Celiac Disease a while back, I had to ask them what they could do for me so I could eat,” Duke said. “They told me, considering all the cross-contamination, my options were the salad toppings, apples, oranges and bananas. Someone with a food allergy, such as my siblings who have severe food allergies, they need a new pair of gloves on, they need new utensils used, they need a clean service for the food to be put on.” 

Moravian University is a school that has its foods delivered from Sodexo. They offer a variety of foods for students with food allergies to eat from and specifically do not use gluten intolerance or nuts or peanuts in the food for students’ safety. If this school can do so, then so can Cabrini! 

“I have a gluten allergy, so I have to eat gluten-free foods,” said Kara Bradl, sophomore education major. “I don’t think Cabrini follows the guidelines to keeping students safe from certain food allergies. If a student eats something they can’t have, they can have a severe reaction. They need to do a better job doing so.” 

Tracy Eells, head of Cabrini’s dining services, said, “I will also be happy to discuss the training that my staff receives and the precautions we take to care for those with food allergies. Additionally, our menus are posted on our website daily with icons that depict food attributes such as wheat, dairy, etc. That way, a student can see what food is available to fit their dietary needs.” 

Students say they waste their meal plans on what they’re not allowed to eat. Meal plans are what students and their families pay ahead of time to give students access to eat at the school cafeterias. If Cabrini isn’t giving students more food options, students will continue to waste their money on cafeteria foods. 

“Last semester, I wasted a hundred dollars on meals I wasn’t able to eat,” Duke said. “Would it hurt to add a place on campus that’s allergy and contamination-free? It’s really not that difficult. There are so many nutrient ways to give people those nutrients. It’s cheap, it’s easy and it’ll allow everyone to have a meal.” 

Of course, there are different places students and faculty members can go to eat off-campus, such as the restaurants located at the King of Prussia Mall and in Wayne. “Students can buy food items that are okay for them to eat,” Bradl said. 

Photo from the “Consumer Fee Comparison: Food Delivery Companies” website

The problem is after a while; it gets expensive. Food delivery services have you pay extra just to have your meal delivered. Some students don’t have cars, so they cannot drive themselves to the stores and pick up whatever foods they need. “We go to college to be able to eat there. It isn’t reasonable to not be able to eat at your school,” Duke said.  

Students with food allergies are concerned for their overall health because they don’t have many options to choose and eat from, unlike going out to eat somewhere off-campus. This is the reason why many are frustrated at Cabrini for not accommodating the proper food safety guidelines. 

“People with allergies, it should be taken care of,” Hite said. 

“If you go onto the Cabrini website and search, ‘Food Allergies,’ it will bring you to the dining page. On that page,” Eells said. “There is a ‘Dietary Needs’ section, and it states, ‘Students with concerns about nutrition, food allergies, or vegetarian/vegan options should contact Dining Services at 610-902-8505.’” 

“College should be a place for everybody,” Duke said. “And so I really think that everybody should be everywhere. In our dining halls, in our classrooms, in our residence halls, everywhere should be for everybody.”

Photo from “The Grill” website

Victoria Giordano

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