Posted by: Indonesian Children | May 13, 2009

Food for Thought: Satisfying Picky Eaters Is No Picnic


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Illustrations by Stuart Goldenberg


Education Life


Education Life

A Dream Not Denied
A Dream Not Denied

Students with disabilities seek to live up to their potential in spite of numerous hurdles.

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But that’s just the tip of the iceberg lettuce. Colleges must customize menus to accommodate students’ increasingly demanding taste for socially responsible, environmentally friendly, allergen-free foods.

Enough Hormones of Their Own

¶“Students throughout the nation have an awareness of what’s in our food,” says Rick Panfil, food service director at Oberlin, in Ohio. Oberlin offers milk free of recombinant bovine growth hormone; as of last month, its ground beef comes only from grass-fed, hormone-free cows. While the milk tends to be a little “grainy,” Mr. Panfil says, the beef is more tender. Oberlin is also among campuses relying more on produce from nearby farms that steer clear of antibiotics and pesticides. Bon Appétit Management, which serves about 70 campuses, including Oberlin, buys 30 percent of its foods from local farmers.

Fair trade: Good to the Last Drop

¶Students of the 1960s boycotted nonunion grapes in solidarity with California’s migrant workers. Today’s politicized foodstuff is coffee. About 350 campuses now use coffee, sugar and cocoa that is fair-trade certified — a stamp of approval indicating that workers and growers are not exploited (as determined by the nonprofit Fairtrade Labeling Organizations International). Local members of Students for Fair Trade, a national activist group, recently persuaded the University of Washington in Seattle to sell certified espresso in dorms. In Virginia, students got the College of William and Mary to serve fair-trade certified joe in all its dining facilities.

Hold the Gluten/Nuts/Dairy

¶Most campus dining halls are providing for food allergies. “It’s changed totally from ‘You want chicken or fish?’ to a partnership between the chef, the nutritionist and the student,” says Jeff Gourley, executive chef at Fairleigh Dickinson University in Madison, N.J. Because federal laws prohibit health services from releasing private information, it’s up to students to disclose their dietary needs to the dining staff, says Joseph A. Binotto, general manger of dining services at Lafayette College, in Easton, Pa. And they do. “We have one gentleman, a student with severe food allergies, who comes into the kitchen and says ‘Hey, what can I eat today?’ ”

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