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<p>Students are offered fruits and vegetables to compensate for dietary restrictions.</p>
Students are offered fruits and vegetables to compensate for dietary restrictions.

Otterbein ensures students with dietary restrictions still have food available

Food is fuel, it is important as you navigate the day, that you eat and receive nutrition so you are able to tackle the responsibilities the day may bring.

All Otterbein resident students, except those living in university Theme Houses or the Commons Apartments, are required to have a meal plan. Some students with meal plans have specific needs for food, and these needs can vary from student to student. 

The diverse needs of the Otterbein campus community are met with a variety of diet conscious alternatives such as vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, lactose-free, and more at every location. 

If any Otterbein student expresses a need, they will be connected with Otterbein University Dining Services Director, Bill Cochrane. Cochrane will set up a time to meet with them to discuss their needs, as well as show them how they can find and/or avoid certain foods in the Nest and other campus dining venues.

Otterbein’s dining vendor, Parkhurst Dining, has specific sections where common allergens aren’t used in the food prep and also specific markers on the menus for certain allergens.

The goal of the specialized meal plan is to help the student find items they can eat.

Accessibility for other accommodations can range from a physical disability or mental health related disability, and are covered through several forms.

Any accommodation in dining or campus housing which utilizes the disability verification accommodation request form is reviewed by the Disability Services staff who provide Tracy Benner, Otterbein University’s director of Residence Life, with a recommendation. Benner then works with the student on how they can make that accommodation. 

Benner said that she recalled an example of a physical disability within dining, where an enrolled student with a meal plan was blind.

‘’They requested food be provided to pick up from the Den since navigating upstairs before the new elevator was installed was challenging and they found it most comfortable to eat in their room. Their accommodation was being able to pre-order food and have it packaged for pick-up.’’

‘’We’ve had similar accommodations for students with severe anxiety and/or an eating disorder who find it hard to choose foods when others are around and/or when there are many choices of foods available. A pre-selected, packaged to-go meal may make sense as it limits choices and removes others being around when selecting food items," she said.

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