In recent years, you may have noticed a major shift in food trends in the United States in terms of special dietary needs. Where a few years ago it seemed that the only food allergy out there was peanuts, now you may hear of everything from Gluten Free Diets to Butter and Oil Free Diets and they are not uncommon. Working on a college campus catering to many different needs and requirements can be tricky, but we at Zag Dining pride ourselves on the ability to accommodate almost every person’s diet.
Students who are on special diets and leaving home for the first time may experience anxiety about eating in a Resident Dining setting and parents may worry that their student isn’t eating nutritious meals or even just eating enough. Zag Dining does all that it can to accommodate our customers. Not only do we provide a variety of options for a variety of diets at all meals, but we also offer one-on-one meetings with our Executive Chef and our Dietician upon request. We want to make sure we are taking care of all of our customers. Our Chef and Dietician will sit down with the student and discuss their special needs and advise them on nutritional options as well as what Zag Dining can do for them. Sometimes it’s as simple as taking the student on a tour of our Resident Dining facility and pointing out different options, or sometimes it requires special ordering of different foods in for a particular student. No matter what the request, we can accommodate our guest.
One of the largest challenges that Zag Dining experiences is our customers not letting us know about their special needs or diets. How can we help our customers if we do not know they need help? To help with this challenge, Zag Dining has now set up a Champions for Special Diets group where we meet once a month as a group and discuss different allergies and diets, whether it be Vegan to Paleo Diet, and figure out solutions for the group. Not only does it help us educate our customers on what already have available and learn from them what more we need to do, but it also creates a safe environment for our guests to share their needs. It also helps show our guests that they aren’t the only ones with special needs when it comes to their diets.
If your student or someone you know on campus has a special dietary need, please send them our way! We would love to make sure they are receiving the proper nutrition for any diet right here on campus, in a comfortable environment.
For now, here are some things we are already doing that you can share with your students.
- All of our food in resident dining is marked with appropriate signage whether it contains Peanuts, Soy, Dairy, Nuts or if it’s Vegan, Gluten Free, Vegetarian, Local, Organic or Sustainable.
- All of our nutrition facts and weekly menus for Resident Dining are available online at www.zagdining.com. We also have a Facebook Page and Twitter account where we post the menu every day and have a Pinterest account where we feature food for Special Diets. Search Zag Dining to find us!
- We offer free weekly cooking classes that help educate students on cooking, dietary restrictions and cooking on a budget.
- We carry a plethora of Gluten Free items such as bread, English muffins, muffins, cookies, pizza crust, tortillas, chips, pasta and flour. We also have a special Gluten Free toaster for those items. All these items are located in the COG during all meals in a Gluten Free fridge.
- We carry a variety of dairy free products such as Soy Milk, in multiple flavors, and Almond Milk.
- We always have plain tofu and seasoned tofu available from Small Planet Tofu located right outside of Spokane. As well as fresh raw vegetables and tossed to order salads available.
- We have a designated Vegetarian/Vegan action station at all meals. If the dish is Vegetarian, we always have someone available to create the Vegan version of it upon request. We also carry Tofurkey Breakfast Links, Soyrizo, Tofu, Soy Yogurt Parfait, Thai Kitchen Noodle Cup, Assorted Vegan Ice Creams (flavors and availability vary), Vegan Cream Cheese, Butter, Mayonnaise, Mozzarella Cheese, Cheddar Cheese and Parmesan Cheese.