The Mensa is constantly planning and preparing meals for students at Wartburg, but for some students a little extra planning is involved in the preparation of their meals.
Students with intolerances or allergies to certain foods require a special diet plan that the Mensa offers.
There are five people on campus who require special diets.
When an individual has an allergy, there’s an actual physical reaction that in some cases can lead to death, Nutrition and Services Advisor, Toni Wood said.
Having a diagnosed medical condition that requires you to eat certain types of food is what classifies a special diet, Wood said.
Students first need to contact Wood to make her aware of their dietary need. The student will then need to turn in a doctor’s note which specifies the issue and what special diet the doctor suggests for that student.
“What we do is we have the students pick their items in advance. We try to match their special diet menus as closely to what’s going on in the Mensa that day for that meal,” Wood said.
Food for special diets is usually store-bought individually, as Mensa workers do not go through it as quickly as the other menu meal options.
Wood calls it a “labor of love.”
When students walk into the Mensa, they are offered a variety of food combinations to pick from, but those on special diets don’t have as much variety and usually have just one option.
Students with special diets pick up their food at the door near the cereal station. They alert a staff member and let them know what their name is and what their dietary need is.
Anna McMullen is a Wartburg student on a special diet because she has gluten intolerance. She said it’s like being lactose intolerant, but instead of dairy products, she can’t eat wheat and other grain products.
McMullen found out she was gluten intolerant last December.
“I kept getting sick after I would eat and then we just started cutting things out of my diet and found out it was gluten,” McMullen said.
“The Mensa makes it really easy to eat here and not have to make things on my own. They make the meal that you guys eat, they just make it a gluten free alternative.”
Wood said being in college makes it difficult to have to think about planning meals in advance.
She believes people would rather go out and eat pizza with their friends, but some people just can’t do that and at some point they have to take control and work really hard to make sure they’re not making themselves sick or sicker.
“I miss bread a lot, but it’s worth it not to eat it because I don’t want to be sick,” McMullen said.
In the end, it’s the students’ choice what they do, the staff just tries to help them make the healthiest choice for their individual issues.