The Racquet

Viewpoint: More than Meatless

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Picture Credit: UWL

Picture Credit: UWL

Picture Credit: UWL

Marissa Widdifield, Diversity, Social Justice, and Inclusion Reporter

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Dietary restrictions are hidden identities. A restriction could be due to preference, health, allergy, and/or religious practices but aren’t physical traits that make the people these restrictions apply to, outwardly noticeable. Because of this, dietary needs are often forgotten. The Whitney Dining Hall at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse lacks sufficient variety for those who have one or more dietary needs.  

UWL students have the choice of going to the other places on campus for food but these options are limited depending on how many block meals or maroon dollars a student has left on their meal plan to spend at these other options. 

For the student without any dietary restrictions, Whitney Dining Hall has an abundance of options—as it is set as buffet style. But for the student who could be gluten free, vegetarian or have a soy allergy, navigating what one can eat proves to be difficult.  

Whitney Dining Hall does try to be dietary-friendly by providing other options. There is access to what Whitney Dining Hall is serving for the day by through Dine on Campus.

Once on the website, students can filter and personalize the results by selecting “vegetarian,” “vegan,” and/or “gluten free.” For example, if a student were gluten free, they could see what foods were available for them for each meal. On Oct. 25, a student who is gluten free had the option to eat breakfast potatoes for breakfast, breakfast potatoes for lunch, and breakfast potatoes for dinner. No dessert options were listed.  

For those who are vegetarian or vegan, lunch and dinner options routinely consist of cooked vegetables. Vegetarians and vegans are not synonymous with herbivores and yet the home-style meals fail to reflect this.

Thus, vegetarians and vegans are forced to eat the same meals consistently such as yogurt (if not lactose intolerant), cereal, or the stir fry offered every day. This leaves those who want to avoid animal products nutrient deficient even though they are paying thousands of dollars a year for their meals through the university.  

UWL does provide a dietitian on-campus but it’s main dining hall should be capable of providing healthy and filling options for common dietary needs like vegans, vegetarians, allergies, and gluten intolerance. When prospective students are on a tour through Whitney Dining Hall they are definitely looking at the food available. If they don’t see options that accommodate to their needs, UWL won’t be a school they apply for.   

Not providing food for those with dietary restrictions is a pattern throughout campus. Most organizations hosting events provide free food as incentives to attend although forget to purchase food that benefit those with restrictions. Organizations might not realize that when their poster says, “Free Pizza!” they are forgetting about a whole community of students.  

Fruits and vegetables isn’t enough. Those with dietary restrictions deserve healthy meals that will be able to sustain them throughout the academic year. Whitney Dining Hall and organizations at UWL need to work harder.  

 

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