Safer, Better Food

Students at UIS often find themselves at the Student Union studying, participating in events or wasting time meandering around. One stop that every student or visitor of UIS has come across is the Food Services section of the building. Although the food selection is rather small, it can often satisfy the occasional visitor. But there is a serious problem when it comes to the food services offered at UIS and it strongly affects those who have food restrictions.

Many people who attend UIS have dietary restrictions which prevent them from eating numerous types of food. Whether from allergies or religious/moral restrictions, it is important for students to know what they are eating on campus. Should they accidentally consume something outside of their restriction, it might mean an upset stomach or worse: hospitalization.

For that reason, it is also equally important for people working with the food to be proactive in ensuring that they accurately provide information about the contents of what students are eating and that the food is not touching anything to which students are allergic.

This is where the problem arises. Some food service members provide students with inaccurate information pertaining to the food, or they are not proactive enough in ensuring the food is safe to eat for those with allergies. Sometimes I believe that the people working do not even realize what students are asking or telling them, often leading to confusion and mixing up orders. Some students cannot cook their own food because they live in the dorms, so they are often at the mercy of the dietary selections offered at UIS.

There are simple ways to fix this issue, such as including little icons next to the menu item designating what type of food item it is: a small leaf if it is vegetarian, a wheat icon if it is gluten-free, perhaps a bottle if it is dairy free. These simple changes could even help expedite the order process. But Food Services must also be wary in how the food is prepared to avoid cross-contamination.

There is little point in creating an easy system for people to follow if the workers do not follow it. For that reason, there should be ample training so that Food Services understands how to prepare food for people with allergies. As another option, the school could allow students more freedom in choosing their housing if they have severe allergies.


Please note that all opinion columns in The Journal reflect the individual author’s own perspectives on a topic, and the views and opinions expressed in these columns do not necessarily represent those of The Journal.