Dining services expand menu options

By Sara Rasmussen

DeKALB — Campus Dining Services has continued its goal of building menus that satisfy various dietary needs.

Campus Dining Services is continuing to expand its vegan and vegetarian recipes to accommodate students. Dining services also plans to incorporate menu items from the October International Night hosted by the Latino Resource Center in New Hall.

Nutrition Program Coordinator Meg Burnham said she thinks it’s important for students to have a variety of foods each meal.

“We have a very diverse set of students that we are planning for in the [dining] halls,” Burnham said. “The menus are planned to offer a wide variety at any given meal.”

Burnham said students with medical diet restriction can receive accommodations with documentation. She also said Campus Dining Services is mindful of students with lifestyles that restrict what they are able to eat.

“We’re obviously very aware that we have students that follow a vegetarian diet and students who follow a vegan diet and so, we try to be mindful of that,” Burnham said. “Just about every student on our campus is busy, so if they are thinking about their health, I would have them prioritize and try to isolate one or maybe two areas to focus on at a time.”

Freshman undeclared major Danielle Howard, said she thinks dining services has done a good job of providing vegetarian-friendly foods.

“I wasn’t really expecting a lot when I came to NIU as far as food options or it being particularly flavorful, but I feel that it’s enjoyable to eat,” Howard said.

Howard benefits from the food bars offered throughout the week. The different food bars give students the option to add or leave out whatever they want for their meals.

”I really like when they do the omelette bar for breakfast because I can just ask them to put vegetables in the omelette,” Howard said.

Daniel Koenen, Campus Dining Services executive director, said university dining has a bank of close to 3,000 recipes.

“Menus are dynamic,” Koenen said. “We’re constantly changing them based off of what students are eating and not eating. In the main entrée line, we do our best to have a meat entrée, a vegan, vegetarian, two vegetables and a starch.”

Koenen said the struggle with variety is not knowing what the students want each night. The menu is adjusted each week to satisfy students’ preferences.

“We know we have some people who want to eat vegan or need to,” Koenen said. “It’s the challenge of making it and it not being eaten and having it take up an entrée, when you could serve cheese lasagna [instead] and everybody would love it … We come up with what we think is going to work and then, if we hear feedback that it’s not working, then we change it.”