For students with food allergies and their families, college dinning can often cause anxiety. The good news is that Geneva College’s food service provider, Pioneer College Caterers, began addressing this issue years ago, before awareness was as great as it is today. Pioneer’s crew at Geneva became something of a trendsetter in the industry and, with rising instances of students with food allergies, efforts have continued to be refined.
“Students in the past have had to be their own advocate,” said Clayton Cappellanti, Director of Food Service. “Now, however, both admissions counselors and the dining hall staff are prepared to discuss food allergy solutions with incoming students.”
Pioneer College Caterers, contracted by Geneva, provides a number of alternatives for those with milk and gluten allergies. The company first began helping students by purchasing directly from local retailers. Since that time, however, Pioneer Catering has been able to step in and directly provide more allergy sensitive options.
“There are always food options available for me, and I can always ask if I am uncertain if something is gluten free,” said senior Sarah Lankitus. “I think the provisions are tasty,” she added.
For those with dairy allergies, alternatives such as soy and lactose-free milk are offered; and a number of options are available for those with gluten sensitivities. Alexander Dining Hall offers gluten-free breads and lunch meats, a special fridge containing gluten-free selections, a separate toaster and deep fryer to avoid cross contamination, constant supplies of Rice Chex cereal, a rotisserie chicken station, and a specially prepared hot gluten-free meal Monday through Friday.
And Cappellanti says that the staff is still working to make even more options available.
“Geneva has done a great job helping me figure out how I can eat healthy and, as an athlete, get the nutrients I need,” said senior Anna Kluitenberg. “Every person that I have dealt with along the way has been understanding and more than kind.”
Geneva’s food allergy program now responds to the needs of over 20 students. Cappellanti says he is happy with the program’s growth and wants students to talk with him about their needs. “If I don’t know there’s a problem, I can’t fix it,” he added.
Geneva College was selected to join the Undergraduate Microbial Genome Annotation Program, an initiative of the Department of Energy’s Joint Genome Institute (JGI).