Dining Hall Inclusivity Has Its Limits
For those with dietary restrictions, there’s still work to be done.
Sep 30, 2019
In the last few years, NYU’s dining halls have expanded to accommodate more dietary preferences and restrictions. Most notably, Lipton became a certified halal dining facility last winter. However, students with dietary restrictions feel there is still more to be done. After many protests against Aramark’s food services, NYU switched to a new food provider this fall, but this change did not come with an improvement in dietary accommodations.
Steinhardt sophomore Asata Spears doesn’t eat red meat, and she says there are fewer options for her this semester in comparison to last year.
“This year I find less either red meat or completely vegan, there’s no fish or chicken or turkey or anything,” Spears said. “And if there is chicken, it’s always fried, like chicken tenders.”
CAS sophomore Laura Measher, a pescatarian, remarked that the dining halls are mostly the same as they were under the old provider, but the global dining section of Palladium now seems to consist only of chicken.
“I can’t eat anything from there any day, so if I’m not in the mood for the other stuff there, I don’t have much of an option,” Measher said.
Students also noted a lack of advertisement about food at dining halls that accommodates dietary restrictions. Even if the food is there, they say they don’t know about it.
Tisch sophomore and vegan Zoe Wells used the Beyond Burger as an example. The burger is a completely meatless option currently being offered at the Palladium, Downstein, Lipton and Third North dining halls.
“It’s new that they’re actually putting it on the menus this year,” Wells said. “Last year they actually had it at multiple dining halls, which was just a weird off-the-menu thing that you had to ask for. I only knew because someone else who was vegan told me they had them.”
Wells also noted that NYU used to post allergen warnings for their menus on a website called Campus Dish, but they’ve stopped using it this year.
“There are better options but they’re worse about labeling things than they were last year,” Wells said. “I can’t tell before I get to a dining hall what my options are.”
Measher and Wells cautioned that this lack of information could pose a bigger problem for those with allergies.
“A lot of the stuff is about mislabeling of vegan versus vegetarian things, where dairy and egg is the difference there, and those are huge allergens for people,” Wells said.
Despite acknowledging a lack of advertisements and labeling, Measher doesn’t let these issues affect her overall conception of NYU Eats.
“Honestly, I’m really satisfied because we have so many dining halls,” Measher said. “People complain about it, but at other schools, there’s one dining hall that serves the same thing every day, so there’s a really large variety. If you’re not looking for the variety you might get annoyed, but it’s there.”
Wells somewhat agreed, though that doesn’t mean she’s a fan of NYU’s dining halls.
“It’s frustrating because in talking to friends at other schools, they have it much worse because we have such a variety of dining halls,” Wells said. “But it’s still frustrating enough that I’m just sick of the meal plan.”
A version of this article appears in the Monday, Sept. 30, 2019, print edition. Email Sabrina Choudhary at [email protected]