ISU Dining’s speical diet kitchen caters to students with food intolerances


Kelby Wingert/Iowa State Daily

Chef Marshall Weeks cleans up after preparing a meal in the special diet kitchen located in Union Drive. Weeks prepares special meals for about 15 students who have food allergies.

Brian Keck

ISU Dining offers students with food intolerances a special diet kitchen where students have safely prepared food made for them.

The special diet kitchen is a separate space located inside of the Union Drive Community Center. Chefs are able to cook and prepare food for students with an intolerance to certain foods. This prevents cross-contamination with other foods which can make the students with intolerances sick.    

Gluten, soy, nuts, dairy and a variety of other allergens can cause common food intolerances.

“[In the special diet kitchen] I don’t have to worry about cross-commination or worry about eating something that will make me sick,” said Lexi Neumeister, freshman in kinesiology and health, who developed her food intolerance in the past two years. 

Students with documented food intolerances are able to work with ISU Dining in order to eat foods that are safe for them. 

“They are very caring [and] always ask what your allergy is to make sure they are preparing the right food,” Neumeister said. “It really makes my mom feel better to know that I can eat safely here and not have to worry about me getting sick four hours away from home.”

Lisa Nolting, ISU Dining dietitian, meets and discusses meal schedules with students to give them the safest and freshest food possible. 

“We have fun trying new recipes to benefit [the special diet] students,” Nolting said, emphasizing that ISU Dining believes it is important to offer students fresh nutritious foods. 

“Many students develop food borne intolerances once they go to college because they are trying new foods,” Nolting said. 

Geneva Knutson, freshman in chemical engineering, developed her food intolerance in the past couple years as well.  

“My stomach hurt really bad for a week, and I tried eating different foods,”  Knutson said. “I got to the point where I didn’t want to eat anything.”

“People are being diagnosed later in life,” Nolting said. “Special diets such as food intolerances are becoming a more known problem so it’s important to benefit those students with these intolerances.”

With people being diagnosed later in life it is often difficult for them to adjust to a new diet, Knutson said.  

“At first, it was really difficult [to adjust],” Knutson said. “I used to eat bread for every meal, and all of a sudden my main food group was gone.”

With students receiving meals from the special diet kitchen, ISU Dining hopes students are able to adjust better from living at home and know they have a safe place to eat, Nolting said. 

“They make the food taste really good and because they have their own separate space there is no cross contamination,” Knutson said. “I actually get to talk to [the cooks], and then they can know what I prefer and can and cannot eat.”