Thomas and Stevo serve allergen-free dinners for students


Femi Usikalu | The Daily Eastern News

Kymoni Dixon, a sophomore majoring in exercise science for physical therapy, works at Thomas Dining hall, swiping cards. Dixon said she likes the convenience of having an on-campus job although being a student worker can become hectic.

Adriana Hernandez-Santana, Feature Junior Editor

With Taylor Dining Hall being known for accommodating those who have food allergies, those who benefitted from these options worry about how they will get an allergen free dinner since Taylor Dining has stopped serving dinner and on weekends.

Students with food allergies can now look towards Stevenson Tower Dining Center and Thomas Dining to provide allergy-safe foods to students and staff members.

Some of the most popular foods at campus dining such as chicken strips, mac and cheese, and hamburgers may sound good to most people. But to those who suffer from food allergies, the need for a safe, dietary plan was a must. 

Many at Eastern have certain dietary restrictions that require them to avoid certain types of foods. 

Foods such as shellfish, tree nuts, soy and dairy are just some of the few foods that are excluded from these allergy-safe foods. 

By avoiding these types of foods, it allows those who have celiac disease or other types of food concerns to be able to have a meal without the fear of potential consequences. 

The idea of allergy safe foods first came into fruition after asking the college students what types of foods they were wanting to see more of on campus.

After some discussion, allergy friendly meals like stir fry became a staple food for those who had dietary restrictions. Considering this meal was free of the top eight allergens, it proved to be safe for everyone. 

While Taylor Dining is known to be able to meet these accommodations, due to them no longer serving dinner or food on the weekends, the concerns as to where individuals could get a safe meal grew.

According to Christopher Coffey, the associate director of housing and dining, he explains the reasoning behind this decision. 

“Due to some staffing issues, as everyone is experiencing right now, we had to figure out ways that we could cut services that aren’t going to affect the students,” Coffey said. 

After some brainstorming, the Housing and Dining Center was able to come up with a temporary solution. 

“What we came up with was kind of a compromise,” Coffey said. “We’re going to close Taylor Dining after lunch. It will save two cook positions.”

By closing Taylor for dinner, it allows the cooks the opportunity to cook larger portions of allergy-friendly food, package it, and send it to Thomas Dining and Stevenson Tower Dining Hall.

“[The cooks] are serving the fresh stuff on the line at Taylor for lunch, and then they’re doing some pre-packaged type meals, where they’re cooking fresh vegetables, or whatever the entree is with sides, packaging it up, and then sending it out to Thomas and Tower,” Coffee said. 

With this new plan officially starting last Thursday and over the weekend, it has proven to be well received by staff and students alike.

“I haven’t had any complaints,” Coffee said. “… they’re refreshing those meals everyday so that they have other options, as well as making sure that it’s fresh for them.” 

Even though this solution seems to be working so far, Coffey hopes that they will be able to reopen Taylor Dining back to full time next semester if they gain the proper amount of staff members.


Adriana Hernandez-Santana can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected].