Get your veg on at Nature’s Haven

By Marissa Knabe
Guest Writer

December 6, 2012

Are you vegan or vegetarian? Bentley Dining Hall has got you covered. Over the last two years, Bentley has introduced an entire section dedicated to those who don’t eat meat, called Nature’s Haven.  Food options include vegetarian entrées for lunch and dinner, three homemade hummus varieties, two cold vegetarian salads, tempeh (soy beans and rice cake), seitan (a substitute for meat), and tofu. Bentley also provides different milks such as almond and coconut, along with many other options.

Kevin Hamilton, the food service director, said, “Changes made to the dining program are primarily student driven from data gathered from various surveys and conversations with students.” The hummus varieties were added because of student suggestions.

In the past Bentley would get many suggestions from students who wanted more vegetarian or vegan options. Since adding Nature’s Haven, Filippo Tiberia, operations manager, said that the suggestions have gone down significantly. Of course they haven’t stopped altogether and there is always room for improvement. “We are looking to possibly add another vegetarian entrée as an option as well,” explained Hamilton.

Timothy Keen, a vegetarian student who eats at Bentley every day, really enjoys the options. “When I was looking at schools and comparing their cafeterias, I definitely remember noticing Bentley’s vegetarian options,” he said.

Bentley worker April Hall said that back when she went to school at Lock Haven in the ‘90’s, there were no options for vegetarians. “Things are changing but I still believe it is a slow process.” Hall has had students come up to her with suggestions, which she has forwarded on to her manager.

While the additional options are great for students who are vegetarian the big question is how it is affecting the general student population who eat at Bentley. Is having an entire section dedicated to vegans and vegetarians costing Bentley and the students more? If you walk into the supermarket the organic option is always more expensive, sometimes even double the price.

Hamilton assures that, “Cost is not much a factor due to the proportion of vegetarians to the rest of the student body.” Between Upper and Lower Bentley 22,000 customers are served each week and only about two percent of those students eat vegan, vegetarian, or gluten free foods.

Skyler Ganoe, a student who eats at Bentley, is not a vegetarian or vegan but she says she has no problem with the options being added. “If I found out that was one of the reasons our meal prices have gone up I would be unhappy since I never eat from Nature’s Haven, but I’m glad everyone can have the options they want.”

Beyond just vegan and vegetarian options Bentley provides meals for those who have allergies or special dietary needs. All you need to do is meet with the dietician on campus and they will work with the chefs to make sure you always have a meal perfected just for you.

Marissa is a junior majoring in communication and can be contacted at mknabe@lhup.edu.

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