FIU is in dire need of more diverse food options

For those who can’t eat soy or gluten without an allergic reaction or vegans with limited options, it can be difficult to spend the day on campus. | Ariana Rodriguez, PantherNOW

Ariana Rodriguez | Staff Writer

From options like The Salty Donut or Chick-fil-A, it can be difficult for students to stay within their diet or avoid allergens. Commuters and students living on campus can both agree that there is a clear need for more food variety on campus.

One aspect that often gets overlooked is the importance of catering to the diverse dietary needs of its student population.

With over 22% of college students having some sort of food allergen, not including those who go undiagnosed well into their adult life, it can be difficult to navigate campus.

By offering a wider array of diet and allergen-friendly food options, FIU sends a clear message that they care about the well-being of all students, regardless of their dietary restrictions or preferences.

With students who live on campus who struggle to navigate food options, or commuters having to leave their parking spot to go get outside food, the lack of healthier and allergen-friendly options on campus has an impact.

As someone who struggles with gluten intolerance and is restricted to a specific gluten-free diet (including no cross-contamination), there is not enough variety on campus. 

Even 8th St. Campus Kitchen provide zero gluten-free options, only “avoiding gluten” since cross-contamination cannot be avoided.

In the same regard, there is only one fully consistent Kosher option, which is Miro’s food truck. And for students who dorm, Miro’s is not open over the weekend, so it’s home cooking or eating out until Monday.

FIU’s food options have a limited menu rather than the entire menu. Alongside that, supply chain challenges can change the menu as well. For example, Taco Bell on campus does not provide the Power Menu Bowl, which is one of the few gluten-free options Taco Bell provides.

Providing such options promotes overall student health and well-being. For students with dietary restrictions or allergies, finding suitable food options can be a daily struggle. Limited choices may compel them to opt for unhealthy or unsatisfying alternatives, leading to nutritional deficiencies or discomfort. 

A seemingly small adjustment can significantly impact students adhering to strict allergy diets. It shouldn’t be a burden to provide food for students who pay thousands in tuition, meal plans and housing to eat on campus.

While initial investment may be required to expand infrastructure and diversify offerings, the long-term benefits are significant. A wider range of food options can attract more students, including those who might have previously been deterred by the lack of suitable dining choices. 

By tapping into niche markets, such as vegan or gluten-free options, FIU can potentially increase revenue and offset initial investment costs.

FIU is a forward-thinking institution that is responsive to the diverse needs and preferences of the student body, but they shouldn’t ignore the minority. By prioritizing the expansion of diet and allergen-friendly offerings, FIU can create a more inclusive and vibrant campus environment where all students can thrive.

DISCLAIMER:

The opinions presented on this page do not represent the views of the PantherNOW Editorial Board. These views are separate from editorials and reflect individual perspectives of contributing writers and/or members of the University community.

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