Illustration by Emily Gage

On January 26, Gracie’s opened a new station called Solutions, which caters to students who have dietary restrictions.

“The new station will be vegan by default,” said Aimee Mitchell, production manager at Gracie’s. “This means we are talking about the absence of milk products and eggs. Also, any sugars that aren’t listed as organic we have to assume aren’t, and we won’t use.”

Mitchell has utilized several sources to find recipes that prioritize allergen free recipes, while also taking vegan and vegetarian individuals into account. “Because this area is so new, we had to start from scratch. About 90 percent of our items will be house made; I felt this was the best way to go,” said Mitchell. “That’s over 200 new recipes in this new station alone.”

Donald LaFlam, the associate director of central dining at RIT, said: “One of the things we’re trying to do when we reach out to new staff members [in dining services] is determine how they’re able to handle that cooking and what it really takes to commit to that … We’re really trying to go the extra mile to create healthier scratch-made items.”

Aside from the Solutions station at Gracie’s, LaFlam stressed that there will not be any more shops devoted exclusively to vegan or vegetarian lifestyles. “I think our vegan and vegetarian students would be surprised at the amount is currently available if they asked for assistance; but I do know there are options available at every unit for vegans and vegetarians,” he said.

LaFlam explained this push for allergen-free foods: “What we’ve noticed in the past few years is a growing trend of [students eating more healthily], but also a number of dietary restrictions that are coming to us from new students.” According to a USA Today College article, a survey conducted in 2004 found that 25 percent of college students polled stated vegan options were important to them.

“We’re committed to going the extra mile to make sure that we reach out to the smaller community that practices a vegan or vegetarian lifestyle. They’re a huge part of our campus, so it’s really important that we take that extra step,” said LaFlam.

For more information students are encouraged to contact RIT Dining Services. The Gracie’s management will be looking for feedback to better adapt their menu. This is best done by writing feedback on the Ask Gracie’s sheets near the staircase that leads to the exit. “[Solutions] is in its infancy, and with anything that’s brand new, we’re going to be looking for feedback, both good and bad,” said Mitchell.

There are eight food allergens are always taken into account when Dining Services considers a new recipe. The allergens that are avoided are fish, soy, peanuts, milk, shellfish, wheat, gluten and eggs.