by Kristen Dow
Aramark Dining Services at the University of La Verne can provide special foods to students with specific dietary needs.
According to Armen Ananian, food service director for ULV, if students approach Aramark with special diets, the dining service will try to accommodate them.
“Usually they bring a doctor’s note,” said Ananian.
In addition to a note from the student’s doctor, a menu will also be given to Aramark. Campus dining then compares the student’s menu with their own. If the student cannot eat certain foods on the Aramark menu, special foods will be prepared for the student, Ananian said.
According to Ananian, one student this semester and three last semester approached him with special diet plans.
Junior Jennifer Pashone requested a special meal plan from ULV when she began a medical weight loss diet at the beginning of this semester.
When Pashone first approached Aramark services, she said they were very nice and said it would not be a problem to accommodate her needs. After a short time, however, Pashone became dissatisfied.
“I would get there at noon and would have to wait for 10 to 15 minutes for them to cook my food,” said Pashone. “When I had half an hour for lunch, it was hard.”
Pashone said she then told them she would handle her meals on her own by purchasing her own food. She said she did not eat at Davenport for four weeks, and only used three to four meals per week at the Spot for salads and water.
“The trust factor wasn’t there,” said Pashone. “I didn’t trust them to make my meals because I was trying hard to lose weight.”
ULV campus dining receives its recipes from Aramark, but Ananian said ULV dining decides which foods it will prepare.
“Each university or college does its own menus according to what the students like,” said Ananian.
Ananian hopes to continue a food committee which began last semester. He would like to see students, faculty and staff meet monthly to go over the menus.
Par Nag, Residence Hall Association (RHA) president, said she would also like to see the food committee continue. According to Nag, the committee has not met this semester because of conflicting schedules among its members.
“By second semester, it will be up and running,” said Nag.
According to Ananian, students’ main complaints about the food is that it “is greasy or undercooked or overcooked.”
However, at other colleges contacted in the area, food services seems to pose less of a problem for students who eat at school.
J.P. Dozier, general manager of Bon Appetit dining services at Whittier College said the main concern with students there is nutritional information for foods. To help this, a nutritional breakdown in printed for the students to consult. This is done by using a computer program to analyze the foods.
For students at Whittier who have special health needs, such as diabetes or gastritis, Dozier said they are each handled on an individual basis. Arrangements can be made with the students to come in at their leisure and have special foods prepared. Bon Appetit also caters to students who cannot eat certain foods because of their religious beliefs.
“We try to make it a good value for them,” said Dozier.
Similarly, General Manager for Marriott dining services at the Claremont Colleges, Ian Macdonald, said they also try to cater to special diets.
The Claremont Colleges consist of five different schools Claremont McKenna, Harvey Mudd, Pitzer, Pomona and Scripps. According to Macdonald, each college has its own dining hall and students from all colleges may eat at any of the five halls. Each dining hall has a different menu cycle and offer different meals.
Marriott also employs a full-time nutritionist for the Claremont Colleges who counsels the students with their nutritional needs. For students who are vegetarian, diabetic or have certain food allergies, special foods can be purchased by the dining service.
In addition to being open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, Macdonald said the colleges also have a fourth meal from 10:30 to 11:30 p.m. He said most students do not eat breakfast, but do eat late at night.
“We can’t find a student who we can’t honor,” said Macdonald.
Ananian said this is an option for ULV if the students would like it. He also said Davenport opens from 8 to 10 p.m. during finals week.
“We’re here to serve the students,” said Ananian.
According to Macdonald, Marriott creates their menus from scratch and obtains their recipes from three sources: cookbooks, student input and current food trends.
The three main complaints Macdonald receives are variety and temperature of foods and service hours.
“It’s one of the rites of passage of college,” said Macdonald. “You have to complain about the food.”
Kathy Piatt, food service manager for Azusa Pacific University, said they serve 1,600 to 2,000 students per day at APU.
Unlike ULV, Whittier or Claremont, APU is not contracted with a food company, and therefore, according to Piatt, they have a lot of flexibility with their menu.
Piatt said among the low-fat foods they serve are fresh salads, fruit, cottage cheese and Jello. They also have a bakery which has low-fat selections. They are currently developing a healthy line to accommodate vegetarians.
“One of the things people complain about is that we serve too much food like French fries,” said Piatt. “But take away the French fries and it’s ‘Where are the French fries?'”