Georgetown No Longer Serves Pesto

This story may not seem like a big deal to you but I say “Hurrah!”

Waaaaay back when I was in college, in the 90s, food allergies and dining services were two worlds that never met. I’m glad to see that change is coming!

Citing Allergies, Pasta Station No Longer Serves Pesto

The upper level of O’Donovan Hall is officially a nut-free zone.

In an effort to ensure the safety of students with nut allergies, foods such as pecan pie and peanut butter will be served only on the lower level. In addition, the pasta station has stopped serving pesto sauce, as it contains pine nuts.

“The elimination of nuts on the upper level was created to avoid cross-contamination when students dish additional food items onto their plate,” said Kristen Hamilton, registered dietitian at O’Donovan Hall.

“This compromise, however unpopular with some students, is the safest solution to ensure all students can enjoy their dining experience,” she said.

In response, Katie Cronen (COL ’11) created a Facebook group called “Bring Pesto Back to Leo’s!” which had attracted 93 members as of last night.

“I was kind of upset it was gone because it was so popular,” Cronen said. “I wanted to do something a little bit more proactive than sitting around and complaining. I found an online comment card through the Leo’s Web site and told all my friends to write a comment.”

Cronen suggested cooking pasta with pesto sauce in separate pans in order to protect students with allergies while continuing to offer the sauce.

In response to the comments of Cronen and others, Margie Bryant, associate vice president of auxiliary services, said in an e-mail to Cronen that she would be in contact with the Dining Services management team to review the removal of the pesto sauce.

“Peanut allergies are common food allergies and are definitely prevalent among the student body so it feels good to know that at least upstairs is peanut-free,” Elizabeth Ockerman (COL ’11), who is allergic to peanuts, said.

For those with sensitive allergies, minimal exposure to nuts can cause anaphylactic shock, in which the victim has difficulty breathing and could die in a few minutes if left untreated.
— Julia Cai


alm said…
Hmm, I always had trouble with this. Both a summer camp I attended and at some point, my high school (I think) were just totally nut free. I kind of like the concept: it creates a relatively safe space for kids, although I think it's pretty difficult for the administration to keep say, a Snickers, out of the cafeteria. You can't really police fifteen year olds that way (as you might with a six year old, whose lunch box can be checked). I get it. And yet it seems a bit unfair to the majority of the students, who can eat nuts. What about vegetarians seeking nut butters as a source of protein? The students clearly enjoyed the pesto, and I could easily understand the frustration that derives from having something you like changed due to what might be perceived as a "personal problem". And yet. I do think it's fair and necessary for the university to have safe and accessible food, to find the perfect balance of catering to both groups. What about nut-free zones rather than ditching nut-containing foods all the same? I think at some point in school there was like, a "nut table".

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