Food Options: Are There Really Enough?

Reported by Emma Bach

Bon Appetit, the catering company at George Fox University (GFU), has always offered a variety of food options. And for good reason — with a diverse student body, all sorts of diets must be accommodated, from vegan to gluten free. Freshmen are required to have a meal plan, and for this reason there must be options for everyone. After all, we’re paying a lot of money for the meal plan.

This poses the question — what if you can’t eat what is offered? It’s simply not logical to be on a meal plan if you can’t consume the food, and this can prove to be a burdensome problem for those with notable dietary restrictions.

Marisa Meyer, a first-year student, struggled with this issue earlier this year. Diagnosed with a severe case of celiac disease from a young age, she’s had to steer clear of gluten to avoid getting seriously sick. Unfortunately, she’s still gotten ill from the food served at Canyon Commons more than once.

“Sometimes even gluten-free food can make me sick if it’s not made properly,” Meyer said. “I’ve just learned to ask a lot of questions about my food, and that in the end, it’s easier just to make it myself.”

While there are some gluten-free options, it’s not always enough. According to the Bon Appetit website, there are foods “made without gluten-containing ingredients,” but such foods are “prepared in an open kitchen where gluten is present.” This can be a risk, especially for students who are particularly sensitive.

Meyer eventually ended up requesting and receiving an exception from the meal plan. It was a process that involved a form, various contacts, and a required doctor’s note.

Meyer isn’t the only student to have gone through the ordeal of dietary limitations. Rebekah Burns, also a first-year student, had to face similar challenges regarding meals at GFU. With the weight of varying food sensitivities and allergies, control over her diet is both necessary and significant. She, too, received exemption from the required freshman meal plan.

“Having no meal plan was essential to me because most of my food sensitivities are major components to most Bon meals,” Burns said.

To those of us who are on a meal plan and eat Bon Appetit every day, having a reason for a reprieve from the cafeteria food might seem ideal — however, such dietary restrictions aren’t necessarily enjoyable, let alone appealing. There’s a negative side that comes with the exception, and both Meyer and Burns elaborated on such cons.

“To most people who know me, eating at school looks like a normal-sized refrigerator in my room. That, while entertaining, is not always easy space-wise,” Burns said. “Apart from that, it can be pretty isolating when I am often unable to join my floor mates for a meal.”

“It’s been difficult because I can’t go out to eat with my friends,” Meyer said. “Or I’ll have to bring my own food.”

While there’s a decent amount of variety present in the food at GFU, all diets aren’t equally accommodated, a fact that eventually forced students like Meyer and Burns to remove themselves from the meal plan. In order to fully meet and provide for the dietary needs of all students, the food options need to be increased for students. But it looks like that won’t be happening anytime soon.

Jessica DaughertyComment