Student leaders work with CDS to offer nutrition info, vegan dining

“Students who come to college are often in control of their diet for the very first time in their lives, so its important to be able to have that nutritional information,” Abby Ivory-Ganja said.
Sara-Jessica Dilks / Graphic Designer

The Missouri Students Association and the Residence Halls Association are working with Campus Dining Services to make three major improvements to the campus dining halls.

The first change was a reaction to a resolution passed at the fall semester joint session. The resolution asked CDS to provide visible nutritional information available at the point of sale of food, a concern brought to attention by a diabetic MU student.

The unexpected results were an immediate commitment from CDS to add a Zoutrition kiosk, which is currently only in Dobbs, to all dining halls.

“(The resolution) signifies that all of the major government bodies on campus support that action,” Student Affairs Committee chairman Kevin Carr said. “That piece of legislation being passed actually had quite a few unexpected results, and it took very little time to get established.”

The kiosks provide appealing and easy-to-read nutritional information signs for the everyday menu items and is offering that same information at the point of service for food items that change daily, Carr said.

RHA President Steven Chaffin meets monthly with CDS Director Julaine Kiehn to discuss students’ dietary needs.

“CDS wanted to make sure that RHA approved of everything they were doing by consulting the on-campus student body that will primarily be affected by them,” Chaffin said. “I think it’s a good idea, especially in the short term.”

These monthly meetings will judge success of the pilot program of the campus-wide Zoutrition kiosks by student use.

“It’s not about having a lot of students using it,” Chaffin said. “As long as a few students are using it and benefitting from it, that’s great. That’s what we want.”

All students will benefit from the new accessibility of information, MSA senator-elect Abby Ivory-Ganja said.

“Personally, this is super important to me as a Type 1 diabetic,” she said. “I need all the nutritional information to make sure that my blood sugar stays in check. Students who come to college are often in control of their diet for the very first time in their lives, so it’s important to be able to have that information and be able to access it without too many difficulties.”

After receiving suggestions through last year’s MSA whiteboard event, the MSA Student Affairs committee paired with CDS to serve more vegan food options in the dining halls.

“One suggestion that we took to heart was that there were very few choices for vegan dining here on campus,” Carr said. “So we started looking around, and outside of salads, veggie bean burgers and veggie nuggets, there weren’t many options. We felt that had to be addressed.”

For the past four months, Carr has been working with Mizzou Hillel, the Muslim Student Organization and Chief Diversity Officer Noor Azizan-Gardner to provide both vegan and kosher dining options.

“For things to be kosher, one of the big considerations is that dairy and meat have to kept separate,” Carr said. “Currently, it’s very hard for dining halls to accommodate that, because they cook such a variety of different food on their ranges.”

The 2016 remodel of Pavilion at Dobbs will host a vegan section with specific alterations such as specific sets of color-coded utensils and a dishwasher under the counter to ensure things are washed separately.

Carr said the Student Affairs committee hopes to see these same sort of considerations made in every dining hall.

“Students, if they live in a residence hall, have to purchase a dining plan,” he said. “So making sure that everyone has food that they can eat, without having to change their religious practices, was taken into high consideration as we progressed forward.”

RHA also passed a resolution asking CDS to offer blenders in the dining halls.

The original idea was to have blenders available for student use. However, the sanitation standards for that would be difficult to meet, Chaffin said.

“Starting January 2015 when Emporium Café reopens, they will be offering smoothies,” Chaffin said. “In the spring, Dobbs will begin to offer smoothies, again made-to-order, and I believe that will be two to three days out of the week.”

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