Metz Menu Makeover

Alexandria Smith, Copy Manager

Metz Culinary Management staff now offers selections for  students with special dietary needs.

The new menu consists of several gluten free options, including an entree choice with two sides.  The selections are available every day before lunch and dinner.

Resident Dining Manager Heidi Franssen connects the addition of gluten free foods to an increased awareness of gluten intolerance.

“We had a number of students, and it’s a growing intolerance. Some people have allergies, but it’s really intolerance – they can’t handle it,” said Franssen. “We had a growing number of students asking about it and a growing population of adults and this is the age that it can manifest itself, in teenagers and people in their early twenties. So the more we got asked, the more we developed through Metz and developed a gluten free menu that we’re using on all the accounts.”

Franssen considers it an attempt by Metz to provide a more inclusive menu to staff and students with specific dietary needs, including those who may have just found out that they have intolerance to gluten or other foods.  Junior Speech Language Pathology major Dinamichele Boyer said she is thankful for the menu additions.

“It’s a fantastic change. I like being able to just go up and get my food instead of having to wait 12 to 15 for them to actually whip me up something quick, which is usually stir fry because that’s quick, especially if I have a time constraint,” said Boyer, whose four food allergies developed later in life.  “If I’m coming to the cafeteria with 15 minutes in between classes and I just need food because I missed breakfast already, it’s nice to be able to run in, grab something, and leave like everybody else.”

Boyer’s allergies to products that contain dairy, soy, food coloring, and shellfish leave her with very few items to choose from in typical dining settings.

“When it comes to large scale cooking operations, gluten free is my best choice,” said Boyer, though her dietary restrictions don’t include an intolerance to gluten. “Gluten free just comes with the territory most of the time because if you’re going to cater to one allergy, why not cater to five?”

Metz has also added a variety of other gluten free products including wraps, breads, pastas, soup stocks and gravy bases.

“There’s gluten in things that you don’t even realize – stuff like sauces and gravies, where gluten is used as a binder – so unless you read the labels, you don’t know,” said Franssen. “But now, we have a company that sells natural foods and they came out with a whole line of gluten free bases.”

Because food labels are important to help diners identify potentially harmful foods–such as in Boyer’s case–Metz has placed carefully labeled signs by certain foods, including soups, to help staff and students determine if the items fit into their diets.

“There are a lot of items that are ‘normal’ that people with a gluten intolerance can eat, which is why we started to label things with the ‘gluten free’ part or ‘vegan’ and ‘soy’,” said Franssen.

The menu makeover exists because of  open communication between Metz Culinary management staff and students, said Franssen.  Students can address their concerns via Facebook or at the early semester meeting that Metz holds for students with special dietary concerns.

“This is your home.  This is where you’re eating, and we want to make sure that you’re taken care of,” said Franssen.

Franssen said student feedback could lead Metz to develop more meals for individuals with specific diets such as vegan and vegetarian.

Franssen said the entire menu includes many new options, including hummus, a vegan soup and more options in the salad bar–such as black beans.

“The menu is always a work in progress,” she said.

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