WashU Dining services and students talk gluten-free options; changes

, and | Contributing Writers and Junior News Editor

Ella Giere | Student Life

With the new dining company Sodexo, Washington University’s Dining Services’ gluten-free options have been updated this year. 

Simply Made, a station for allergen-friendly dining, is no longer available on Grubhub; however, Simply Made by You, the service for students with extensive allergy needs, will continue to be available at the three main campus dining halls and on the Grubhub app. 

This change in accessibility will allow students with dietary restrictions to get their food faster. Sophomore Harrison Goodman-Cohn reported that last year, gluten-free students experienced frustration with inaccurate wait times and unexpected order cancellations which in turn caused interruptions in their schedules. 

Because of these problems, Goodman-Gohn said he “felt like I had to plan my day around getting food.” To alleviate this issue, he now lives off-campus and cooks his meals at home. 

Another difficulty Goodman-Cohn encountered was discrepancies between the gluten-free options listed on the menu versus what was actually available for consumption. 

“I would order a gluten-free burger, and they would give me something that wasn’t gluten-free at all,” Goodman-Cohn said. “Or they would say that they were out.”

First-year Gabriella Jager, another gluten-free student, described how she has had a very positive experience with WashU dining overall. However, there were very apparent supply issues during Bear Beginnings and at the start of the school year as both students and dining staff were learning how to navigate allergen-friendly dining. 

“I went to the pasta station twice and asked about gluten-free pasta,” Jager said. “They said they had never seen it before. I had to cook some of my own meals during orientation when I wanted something other than rice and potatoes.” 

Campus Executive Chef James Ellison described Dining Services’ efforts to keep gluten-free options in stock and ensure the health and safety of people with special dietary needs.

“Like with any new company, there were obviously some hiccups to start,” Ellison said, “But we’ve located second and third providers for these menu items to ensure we stay supplied.”

Ellison explained that Simply Made employees undergo supplemental training in addition to the general training for all dining employees so that they can understand how to take extra precautions for allergens. He also emphasized how he and the rest of the dining staff are more than willing to answer any questions.

“If you are gluten-free, celiac, or have any questions or concerns about allergens in the food, don’t be afraid to come up to any of the chefs on hand or anyone with a white jacket,” Ellison said.

Rebecca Miller, Director for Nutrition and Dietary Wellness, asked all students to reach out to the Dining Services Team if they encounter any issues. 

“Don’t be afraid to advocate for yourself. You can email our team at [email protected],” Miller said.

When asked how people who are gluten-free can make their dining experience better at WashU, Chef Ellison pointed to the wide range of menu items. 

“I’d recommend checking out the menu at all of our restaurants to see if there’s something that’s gluten-free because there are options at most,” Ellison said. “In Bear’s Den alone, seven of our restaurants have gluten-free meals.”

Jager expressed how much smoother her dining experience has been and how much she has loved the variety of food choices since supply has increased.  

“I’ve loved everything I’ve been able to get at Corner 17, especially their veggie rice and rice wrap,” Jager said. “Recently, I’ve been able to find something everywhere I go.”


This Article was updated on September 22nd, 2023.

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