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Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

Meal plan presents issues for students with dietary restrictions

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Some underclassmen students have faced challenges getting off Sodexo’s meal plan despite medical concerns.

In mid-October of this academic year, sophomore Jake Reilly moved off campus and off the meal plan.

Reilly has what he deems an “interesting mixture of food allergies,” as well as various medical issues. He said he tried to apply for housing exemption but was rejected, as was his appeal soon after.

“Although Sodexo did try to accommodate me, the system that they had in place proved to be not very ideal: this required me to submit a special request to modify the items Sodexo was already serving at least 4 hours prior and required me to also submit the general time I would be arriving at a specific dining hall,” Reilly said.

After these accommodations, Reilly said he felt he still needed to be released from the plan.

“There was also some resistance from the university to release me from the dorms even after this meal plan ‘solution’ proved to be flawed and rather irreparable,” Reilly said.

“Ever since moving into the apartment in mid-October, I have been eating as healthy as I can,” Reilly said. “I have been following a whole foods, plant-based diet since moving out, which you seemingly can’t do while on the meal plan.”

Since he has been cooking for himself, Reilly said he feels much better.

Rick Arcuri, executive director of business operations and auxiliary services, said Sodexo services will tailor meal plans to students who have dietary concerns.

The program is built so that they can address almost anything that comes through,” Arcuri said. “They have a list of special needs and dining needs that they will reference and build an individual dining plan for a student if they have to.”

Sometimes, these dietary restrictions can involve setting aside certain refrigerator space for individuals.

“We’ve kept the food that we were serving to them separate from everything else in the dining room,” Arcuri said.

Special accommodations can also be made for people with religious dietary restrictions.

“We’ve had students who have had dietary restrictions due to religious reasons where we shop at a separate location for them,” Arcuri said.

Meghan Conroy, a sophomore in the College of Business Administration, said she has always had issues with the meal plan.

As a vegetarian, Conroy said she believes Sodexo has started to provide more options, though she still finds the options to be restricting and repetitive.

“It is extremely difficult to find appealing options that aren’t salads or loaded with sugars and carbs,” Conroy said. But she remains on the meal plan.

Arcuri said he finds vegetarian and vegan options to be “more part of the dining hall than the exception.” He said a preference for certain food does not justify being off the meal plan.

It’s rare for someone to get off the meal plan due to Sodexo’s inability to meet their dietary needs. Most of what comes up, they can manage,” Arcuri said. “Most of what we see is a preference for different foods, rather than a necessity for different foods.”


Like Conroy, Katie Ruffino is a sophomore in the College of Health Sciences, and is still on the meal plan. Ruffino said she tried to get off the meal plan.

She currently uses a forum where students with dietary restrictions or allergies can make special requests at the dining halls.

“For example, if I want to go to Cobeen at 5 p.m. on a Tuesday and have plain steamed broccoli, a baked potato and a grilled chicken breast, I can fill out that information and receive the meal when I go there,” Ruffino said.

Recently, Ruffino joined Marquette University Student Government’s Auxiliary Services Board, and she said she hopes to make positive changes to dining halls on campus.

The new dining hall in Wild Commons will have an allergen-free kitchen at one of its seven platforms, Arcuri said.

“One of them is allergen-free and has its own dishwasher, (and) its own cooking utensils. None of the equipment there will ever be used at another platform,” Arcuri said.

Arcuri said he urges students to reach out to him about dietary concerns or dining hall questions.

“When we know about it and you are willing to work with us, we will move heaven and earth to help you,” Arcuri said.

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