Dining hall chefs widen selections to better accommodate dietary needs

Chefs alter dining hall options for allergens, religion, preference


JULIA PRESTON | Daily Evergreen file

The dining halls label all food with the dietary differences to make choosing meals easy.

MARCO MCCRAY, Evergreen reporter

WSU’s Dining Services has recently added to and changed the foods available at dining halls in response to student feedback.

Dining Services has created two new customizable food stations. At Northside Cafe, there is now Presto Pizza, a pizza station that allows students to choose from a variety of meat and vegetable toppings. Presto Pizza has dairy-free cheese and gluten-free crust options as well.

At Southside Cafe, Dining Services added The Hot Spot, a soup station. The Hot Spot replaced Freshens and offers different soup bases and ingredients that rotate daily.

Adam Koerner, culinary associate director, said that including plant-based options, especially in breakfasts, is going to be a continued focus. Koerner has worked at WSU for seven years and has been cooking since his childhood.

By adding these new culinary options, Koerner said, Dining Services is hoping to create a more inclusive environment.

“I want everyone to come and feel at home and get the nutrition they need,” he said.

Along with the customizable food stations, Dining Services has made progress toward adding halal options at the dining centers.

Halal foods are made without alcohol or pork but include all seafood. For protein-based dishes, Dining Services only uses certified halal beef and chicken. The halal options at the separate dining halls are designated with a halal icon on the menu cards, Koerner said.

The hope is that by making these changes, Dining Services can use food to help create an environment that can suit anyone’s needs, Associate Director Sarah Larson said. She has worked at WSU for four years.

“Creating an inclusive and comfortable environment within a small community is personally what motivates me,” Larson said.

The dining halls’ hours have also changed. They are now open from 7:30 a.m. to 8 p.m., instead of 7 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.

The changes are based off feedback from students through surveys and trends in the food industry. Larson said Dining Services is always looking to the future and trying to make progressive changes.