By Kaeli Evans
Walking through the doors of Westlawn Dining Hall, now catered by AVI Fresh, sophomore Hannah Bartel puts her keys and phone on the table and then takes her usual path to the salad bar. Whether her meal is a veggie sandwich, hummus and pita bread, or perhaps a salad, she does not mind as long as it does not contain meat.
Bartel decided to become a vegetarian three years ago. Her decision means being unable to eat many of the main dishes AVI Fresh serves throughout the day. Nevertheless, she finds enough food for meals.
“I feel like [AVI Fresh] does an okay job,” Bartel said. “The entrée line doesn’t often provide a main dish for vegetarians. However, I don’t think it’s impossible to find something to eat there; you just have to be flexible and okay with not having a huge variety each day.”
AVI offers vegetarian dishes alongside their main dishes, if possible, near the entrée and fusion lines. On the other hand, vegetarians are not the only students on Goshen campus who cannot eat a particular item.
“I’m the allergic to gluten—the elasticity in most baked goods,” sophomore Grael Miller said. “I found out I was allergic to it my senior year of high school.”
Miller is unable to eat bread, pizza, pasta, or anything containing flour. Her allergy often leaves her frustrated and hungry for more variety.
“It is very difficult when I just want to eat something on the go, warm right out of the oven, or something besides the salad,” Miller said.
For Miller, an upset stomach is the usual symptom of eating gluten. For others, not knowing what is in their food can be deadly. Junior Jonathan Harnish has one of the most common food allergies in the United States, according to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology.
“My parents found out that I was allergic to nuts the first time they took me to Chick-Fil-A,” Harnish said. “They cook their foods in peanut oil. I was probably only a few years old so I don’t even remember it happening. I recently discovered within the past few years that I can’t eat peas and lentils. I tried eating split pea soup and almost went into anaphylactic shock.”
The signs in the dining hall explaining the entrée names are inconsistent in their inclusion of various ingredients that may have common food allergies. The lack of ingredient warnings could put students at risk. To these students, more variety and warnings of ingredients allow them to not only eat healthier, but also not worry about what they are eating. AVI Fresh strives to administer to students needs and take suggestions.
Harnish hopes for nut-free cereals, pastas, and entrées in addition to more consistent usage of food allergy warnings. Miller also has ideas on what AVI Fresh could do differently such as keeping the gluten-free cooler stocked and providing gluten-free deserts and breakfast options.
“I have a keen interest in allergens as a sufferer myself,” Bob Rombach, resident director of AVI Fresh, said. “We are strict in our attention to sifting allergen hot-points from our recipes and in labeling or describing them to our clientele in specific. We have a customized account here that follows some very stringent guidelines in our everyday business model to safeguard our guests against a variety of harmful exposures to allergens.”
AVI Fresh has a variety of valuable labels available to use in the descriptions of entrées. However, the constant meal changes throughout the day often prevents the appearance of meal descriptions at all stations at all meals. Nevertheless, AVI Fresh is capable and has the tools to administer to these students, though students do experience consistency to be an issue.