Students continue to allege unsafe dietary options on campus

Grace Tamborella, Staff Writer

Students at Simmons continue to allege a lack of safe dietary options. Bartol, Common Grounds, and the Fens have been called out by students for their lack of options for students needing food accommodations.

Diagnosed with celiac disease five years ago and vegan, Beatrice Crocker is a French major and education minor at Simmons who lives on campus. Crocker claims that while she frequently uses the Dining Services at Simmons, there are limited options to choose from at the dining halls due to her dietary restrictions.

At Bartol, Crocker typically orders a Beyond Burger with no bun and although she says she indicates her dietary restrictions via the mobile order app, she has been served burgers on plain buns and has had to wait for them to be remade. “It isn’t fun when your friends are all eating around and you simply can’t because there’s nothing available for you,” says Crocker.

“Basically all last year was a fight with Dining Services and at this point, I’m tired of it. I don’t wanna keep doing it if nothing changes.” Disappointed with the options, she adds “the onus should not be on the person with the allergy to have to find something special every meal — period. It’s not equitable or accessible.”

Abby McDonald is a psychology major who has been living with celiac disease since she was 18 months old who says she is a regular visitor to all three dining establishments on campus. When asked about how she gets by on a gluten-free diet on campus, McDonald says, “personally I can eat…but I get worried about cross-contamination.” 

However, she feels the options have not been enough this semester. “There were no gluten-free options at the last rotation of Common Grounds,” she says. While she can get by, McDonald says the lack of options on the most recent menu at Common Grounds is disappointing.

Graduate student Mia McGillicuddy received their undergraduate degree at Simmons in 2022 and has a dairy allergy. They say that they eat at Common Grounds and the Fens, depending on the options available.

While McGillicuddy says that options are limited due to their allergy, they have seen improvements in the options provided since their first year as an undergraduate student in 2018. 

Aramark, the food provider of Simmons Dining issued a statement in October about the alleged unsafe dietary options saying “student safety is a priority.” Aramark tells students to register their dietary accommodations with Accessibility Services at Simmons University ensuring the needs of the student can be communicated with Dining Services. 

Aramark says the ingredients used in their dishes are available upon request. “We encourage students to self-identify when they are ordering foods so we can understand their particular needs. Speaking with or emailing a manager is the best way to navigate our offerings,” they say in the provided statement.

“We operate in open kitchens where cross-contamination with allergens is possible,” Aramark warns, “For this reason, we strongly encourage students with dietary restrictions to register their accommodation. This adds another layer of protection to the process.”