Pass the (Gluten-Free) Bread: Sodexo gives gluten intolerant students more choices

  • Gluten Intolerant Option prompted after feedback from students who asked about gluten-free options on campus.
  • Dining locations from Woodfire Pizza to Chick-fil-a to Baskin Robbins now offer gluten-free options for students who qualify for the program.

Gluten intolerant students now have options at almost all dining locations on campus, thanks to Sodexo’s new Gluten Intolerant Option dining plan.

Although the GIO plan does not provide gluten-free meal swipes at all locations, it does provide many more options than gluten intolerant students had last semester.

According to Campus Dietitian Rachel Sanders, the GIO plan was prompted by feedback from students.

“We heard from students in the assessment day evaluations, feedback on social media and comment cards that this was a request, and when we looked at our data, (it) confirmed the request,” Sanders said. “We put this in place to increase those options in all of the retail locations across campus.”

According to the dining services page on the Liberty website, the campus dietitian must approve students who can verify their intolerance before they can receive the GIO plan.

Students must then get a special Flames Pass that allows them to use GIO swipes. The webpage says students with the GIO plan may not use regular meal swipes. The webpage also lists the sites across campus where students can use their GIO swipes and what kinds of food they can get.

Sanders and Retail Operations Director of Liberty University Dining Services Abraham Zahabi agreed that responses to the GIO plan have been very positive so far.

Sanders said that there were about 100 students on the GIO plan as of Sept. 27 and Zahabi said students used 417 GIO meal swipes between Sept. 20 and Sept. 27.

Zahabi said there were a few problems at the beginning of the program, but most have been solved. One was ensuring the extra food safety that goes along with gluten-free options.

“We had to train our staff on how to ensure that the process keeps gluten-free items gluten-free,” Zahabi said.

Freshman Benjamin Miller, who is gluten intolerant, said he found out about the GIO plan during the first week of the semester when he went to a dining location and asked for gluten-free food. He discovered that he had to have the GIO plan to get something gluten-free for a meal swipe. Miller contacted Sanders, who helped him get the plan.

“Over all, it’s been a very good program,” Miller said.

Sophomore Alyssa Schools, who is also gluten intolerant, found out about the GIO plan in the same way as Miller.

“There is a greater variety to choose from,” Schools said. “When you have a food allergy, sometimes eating feels like a routine thing, and you don’t get to enjoy foods that you’re eating as much as other people because there is a lot of repetition, but this helps give me more options and be able to enjoy different foods that I couldn’t enjoy on campus last year.”


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