Since students’ return from spring break, Benedum Dining Hall has changed their signs identifying food to include nutrition and allergy information. They have also launched kiosks in coordination with this change, which occurred March 21.
Lesley Davis, food service director for Aladdin Dining Services, said that the change was made to help students with allergies identify safe foods.
“It will be really beneficial to students trying to be health-conscious and those who have allergies,” Davis said.
Signs have been available near the different food stations indicating what they are serving, so students can quickly glance at a menu to identify whether or not they may be interested in waiting in line for the item.
The signs, created after spring break, have been revised to include, instead of just the food’s title, a description of it, the calories, sugars, carbs, total fat and sodium. The detailed nutrition information is also accompanied by a variety of icons, which indicate different allergens that the food may contain along with whether it is vegetarian-friendly.
“Every day it will show what we are serving at each station, for each meal,” Davis said. “Students can look at each ingredient that we are serving in the salad bar and see the exact nutrition information for it.”
According to Davis, the idea of this change has been in progress since July 2016 but has faced several setbacks in its execution.
“Due to the internet in the Dining Hall not yet being completed and some finalization difficulty, unfortunately the project had to be postponed until spring break,” Davis said.
Some of the problems causing the delay included difficulty organizing each ingredient and recipe with their main supplier, Sysco.
“For example, we had to make sure the marinara sauce we use for all of our different recipes was exactly the same,” Davis said.
According to Davis, the change so far has been well-received by students, especially those who are affected by allergies. Before this change, they would have to contact Davis to discuss their exact meal plan and alterations that would have to be made to the food for them. Now, they can check the icons listed next to the food and eat food with more confidence and ease.
“The students, especially incoming freshman, may feel uneasy coming to me about their allergies because they are afraid of being outcast,” Davis said. “Now it is so much easier for them to just check the sheet.”
Kiosks are being launched to help students gain more in-depth knowledge about the calorie counts of each food, the recipes and the exact ingredients. According to Davis, the kiosks, which are black and feature a touch screen, will be located at each food station for students to easily access.
“In the kiosk there is in-depth information about every food item that we serve,” Davis said.
The change was motivated by a nationwide movement to include nutrition information on foods in restaurants, including new regulations passed Feb. 2016.
“Everyone is a foodie now,” Davis said. “Everybody wants to know what they’re eating, the ingredients and that it is sustainable and healthy.”
Since their recent unveiling, students have not yet had time to give feedback on the new signs and workers have yet to see them in their full use, but they are hopeful about the new change according to Davis.