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Ole Miss Dining Offers Options for All Diets

Each year, Ole Miss sees a new freshman class with diets as diverse as the individuals themselves and Aramark strives to offer food to satisfy everyone.
olemissdininglogo“The vegetarian options on campus are endless,” said Ravina Patel, junior journalism major. “Subway, Starbucks Café, and my personal favorite: veggie burger from Burger Studios.”
In addition to vegetarian options, gluten-free options are also available to students. Jason Phillips, Sr. Food Service Director with Aramark, has noticed more students every year on strict diets due to allergies. Because of this, the Residential College serves foods, such as bread with a gluten replacement. In addition, many of the foods served throughout campus are made with naturally gluten-free items.
“There are a lot of options already on campus,” said Phillips. “We just don’t do a very good job informing students of those options.”
“[The vegetarian options] are somewhat limited, but I have always been able to find something to eat at most of the locations on campus,” said Greg Johnson, blues curator and associate professor at Ole Miss.

Fresh fruit is readily available around campus.
Fresh fruit is readily available around campus.

Phillips keeps chefs on staff with strong nutritional backgrounds, as well as a nutritional dietician. This dietician is available to have conferences with any student in the residential areas that may be on a strict diet to ensure that the student’s diet is completely understood. The dietician will then discuss food options available within the student’s diet.
According to Jonathon Parker, resident district manager with Aramark, surveys are done every semester to find out what students like to eat, as well as what they don’t or can’t eat. These surveys are used to present a healthy balance to satisfy everyone.
Students who aren’t sure what options are available to fit their diet or where to find these options can download the campusdish app. The app shows daily menus in the Johnson Commons, as well as the nutritional information of each dish.
Recently Ole Miss added Panda Express to the food court. This replaced the Magnolia Grill to offer healthier options to students, as well as more variety. All the dishes offered at Panda Express are labeled with a calorie count. According to Phillips, this wasn’t required for the brand, but it was an extra option added to help students eat healthier.
Also recently added to the Ole Miss dining options are provisions on demand stations, or PODs, as they are called around campus. The PODs are mini-markets that offer drinks and snacks, as well as grab-and-go foods, such as pre-packaged sandwiches and salads.
Prepackaged meals, like sushi and sandwiches, are made fresh each day by Ole Miss Dining services.
Prepackaged meals, like sushi and sandwiches, are made fresh each day by Ole Miss Dining services.

Although a diverse menu is already offered on campus, Aramark is constantly trying to improve the options and variety available to students.
“We’ve never stopped and I don’t think you ever can,” Parker said. “You’re constantly trying to raise the bar, always trying to be innovative and move your program forward.”
One of these innovations is Freshii, a brand Parker has been trying to get on campus for three years. This will appear on the first floor of the new Rebel Market in the Johnson Commons. Among other things, the company offers build-your-own bowls with rice, noodles, or salads. Freshii also offers many different kinds of smoothies that are made as the customer waits.
When the new Rebel Market opens, there will also be a special station dedicated to serving students with allergies.
“Utensils and pans will be kept separate so there’s no cross contamination,” said Parker
Other new options coming to the Rebel Market include brick oven pizza, sushi, and a Mongolian grill, in addition to new variations of food already offered on campus, such as sandwiches, burgers, and comfort food. All food will be cooked-to-order with fresh ingredients.
olemissdining– Written and food photos by Cassidy Hopkins, a student in the Meek school of Journalism and New Media.

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