There is so much to love about a Fairfield University basketball game at the Leo D. Mahoney Arena. The sounds of the crowd cheering. The sea of red in the student section. The lively music accompanying the game played by the Fairfield University Pep Band. What makes the experience even better is a win from the team! There is, however, one aspect of the new arena that I find to be lacking: the food.
This is not to say that the food at the arena is not good. In fact, I have heard many students rave about the wraps sold at the arena. The food is reasonably priced and if you show up early enough to some games, you can even receive a free food voucher which is a bonus. However, as someone with a dietary restriction and someone who has friends with allergies or other dietary restrictions, I find that the Leo D. Mahoney Arena does not offer adequate allergy-free options. Actually, it does not offer any allergy-free options.
Accommodating allergies and dietary restrictions is something that I believe Fairfield has always done a great job with. In the Daniel and Grace Tully Dining Commons, the True Balance station delivers delicious food that is prepared completely free of all allergens: nuts, dairy, gluten, the list goes on. When eating from this food station, students can be sure they are not taking a risk with their allergies. The same cannot be said for the food served at the arena.
Some of you might say “So what? It’s not a dining hall, why does the arena need to provide allergy-free food options?” To this, I would argue that Fairfield has always provided allergy-free options outside of the Tully. Take Pres Ball, for example. When walking along the line of food, I was able to find gluten-free options, clearly labeled, alongside the rest of the food. The same has gone for other events I have attended. There is always an allergy-friendly food option. So why can’t the Leo D. Mahoney Arena do the same?
The arena menu does offer gluten-free buns for hot dogs and hamburgers upon request, which I think is great. The gluten-free option is signaled by an asterisk next to the menu items that can be accommodated, but it is in small print and can easily be missed on the menu. I missed this detail myself and ended up eating a hot dog without the bun. There is also a vegetable hummus wrap, which seems as though it may be a vegetarian option for those who don’t eat meat. While these gluten-free and vegetarian options are great, one issue for dairy-free students is that there is no option to purchase a plain hamburger, without the cheese, as they are pre-made and wrapped before sold. There are more people on this campus with dietary restrictions than one may think, and it is important that they are accommodated at our dining facilities. Even restaurants are more allergy-conscious and accommodating today than they ever were before. I think Fairfield should be as well, even at the Leo D. Mahoney concession stand.
If there are just a few more quality allergy-free options added to the arena’s current menu, I can assure that a lot of students with dietary restrictions, including myself, would be a lot happier and a lot less hungry at the basketball games.