By Akanksha Kaushik, Contributor
The holiday season is a time for food, friends, and family. However, for those with dietary restrictions, food that is both delicious and festive can often be difficult to come by.
Keeping this in mind, the Furman Dining Hall and Aramark Food Services came together on November 23rd to provide students with dietary restriction with a similarly festive holiday dinner to the one normally served in the Dining Hall the Monday before Thanksgiving.
Adam Summer, director of Aramark Food Services, says he came up with the idea to make the Thanksgiving meal more inclusive and enjoyable to the entire student body.
“We thought that with a large number of students with dietary restrictions in one place, it would be a great opportunity to get feedback and bridge the gap between the dining services and the students,” Summer said. They expected a turnout of around 40-50 students, and were definitely not disappointed when many more students showed up.
The menu for the dinner was definitely innovative and mouth-watering. The gluten-free options included steamed rosemary carrots, stuffed wild mushrooms, quinoa stuffing and no-meat meatloaf. There was also a tasty sweet potato tart that everyone got second helpings of – it was too good to stop at just one! The turkey was tender, falling off the bone and perfectly done. Aside from gluten free options, there was whole wheat bread with butterballs and a scrumptious apple and cranberry crumble. Dining services used a large database to find accommodating recipes and tweaked existing recipes to make them allergen-free. Summer says it was the effort of the talented, hard-working chefs that made the resulting dinner so appetizing.
The dining staff did a great job organizing the event with no confusion about the different food options. There was an entire table of gluten free options, then a separate side table of dishes containing gluten and another separate table for turkey. Each dish had a label containing allergen information to facilitate easy food choice.
The dinner also appealed to those who wanted a healthy alternative to the rather heavy, greasy, unhealthy food Thanksgiving generally centers around. Susie Morphis, junior health sciences major, says that this dinner provided healthy and equally delicious alternatives to a traditional Thanksgiving dinner.
The newly hired Student Wellness Coordinators, Morphis and senior Jordan Ellis, also had high hopes for the event and put in a lot of hard work to make it a success.
“It was just a good way to increase the communication between the students with special dietary needs and the dining staff,” Ellis said. “It helps us get feedback about what we can change and make better for the students.”
Summer spent time at each table taking feedback and suggestions, with feedback forms and pencils conveniently placed at each table. Since the Special Diets Thanksgiving Dinner was such a success, they may plan to make it an annual event. This was a lovely gesture that gave students with special diets a lot to be thankful for this Thanksgiving.