New Station ‘Rooted’ provides much-needed variety to students with dietary needs

By Lexi Meola
Elm Staff Writer

There is a new station at Hodson Dining Hall and it is a major plus for Washington College students with a range of dietary needs.

“Last semester, we started getting complaints about the lack of vegan or vegetarian options for students,” Assistant Director of Dining Services Kayla Young said. “We had a Zoom call set up with students to see what changes they would like to see.”

According to Young, after the Zoom call WC dining services realized that there needed to be an answer to the frustrations students were expressing. That is where the idea for the new station, Rooted, began.

“[Rooted is a] customizable fresh food station that anyone can have access to, but [which] is primarily for our vegan [and] vegetarian students,” Young said.

When looking to fill staff positions, Young said she was looking for someone who would know what students who are vegan, vegetarian, or have dietary restrictions need.

Young then found Sara Batts, who has vegan and vegetarian family members, to fill in at the station. According to Young, she is especially grateful for Batts because of the staffing shortages dining services are experiencing as a result of COVID-19.

Returning and new vegan and vegetarian students are excited about the new options Rooted provides.

“I really love Rooted.  It is great food, freshly made, and Sara — the cook at the station — is such an amazing and kind woman,” junior Maegan White said. “Even though the lines can be long…I am almost always willing to wait because the food is so great and the options plentiful.”

According to juniors AJ Gerardi and Avery-Grey Dos Santos, it is really nice to have a station dedicated to students with different dietary needs.

“Before the Rooted station, I would have a veggie burger for almost every meal because it was the only thing I really could have besides a salad. Now, I have plenty of options through the Rooted station alone,” Gerardi said.

Students who were here prior to the pandemic are impressed by the addition of the new Rooted station.

“I definitely feel like I have had such a better experience in the dining hall this year than in years past,” White said. “I also feel a lot healthier being able to eat at the Rooted station. As a vegetarian, in years past, I was never able to get good protein options in my diet — but now with Rooted I can eat in [the dining hall] while still getting protein.”

While Rooted has brought about positive change, some students still have suggestions to make the dining hall even better.

“I wish there were more healthy options as part of the main, rotating meals. A lot of the foods are very greasy or fried and it makes it difficult to maintain a healthy lifestyle, outside of eating salads every day,” Dos Santos said.

Many students with dietary restrictions are already limited and maintaining a balanced diet can be difficult with fewer options. The new Rooted station will allow these students to have more foods to choose from.

“Without student suggestions, the Rooted station might not have existed,” Young said. Students with suggestions can reach out to Young via email at kyoung5@washcoll.edu.

The addition of Rooted shows how much the dining hall is willing to adapt to appease students with different dietary restrictions, and indicates that the College is willing to make changes for those that need them.

Photo by Izze Rios

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