Getting food on campus can be difficult when one is lactose intolerant, allergic to gluten, vegan or vegetarian.

Although limited, meals, drinks, snacks and desserts for people with special diets can be found at almost any store on campus. However, most of these come with a significant price hike.

Louisville Vegan Jerky is available on campus, but sells for $8.99 for a small bag. (Natali Perez | The Poly Post)

Those who are lactose intolerant can treat themselves to two non-dairy Ben and Jerry’s ice creams that can be found in two locations on campus. Ben and Jerry’s Non-Dairy Caramel Almond Brittle Frozen Dessert can be found at the Poly Fresh Market, located in the Bronco Student Center, and Ben and Jerry’s Non-Dairy Chunky Monkey Frozen Dessert can be found in the Pony Express at the Market Place. Some sweet sorbet pints by Ciao Bella can be found at the Farm Store as well.

While there are a few options to choose from, many students aren’t that happy with the prices of these products.

“I think that the vegan, gluten-free, vegetarian and lactose-free options at Cal Poly are limited,” said Kristina Campuzano, a fourth-year civil engineering student. “One thing that discourages me from ever buying at Cal Poly is that it’s so expensive.”

Campuzano said tuition and textbooks are expensive enough and food shouldn’t be.

“As college students, I don’t understand why they’re making us pay so much when we’re already having to pay for textbooks and tuition,” she said. “I wish the prices were not as high, but I do like that they’re improving on the options and it’s not just junk and fast food.”

Wow Baking Company’s wheat and gluten free cookies come in a variety of flavors, but a personal bag costs $4.89. (Natali Perez | The Poly Post)

Looking for gluten-free, vegan or vegetarian options? Luckily, there are some options. Some gluten-free products are Rocky Mountain Popcorn, the Gluten Free Bar (GFB), Amy’s Burritos, Pressed by Kind Bars and more, which can be found at any Pony Express store.

Some vegan and vegetarian products are Sweet Earth burritos, Amy’s frozen foods and a few of Annie Chun’s frozen foods. These and a few others can be found at either the Vista Market or the Farm Store.

Manager Jules Freese from Cal Poly Pomona’s Pony Express store in the Market Place said bringing these sorts of products to campus was important.

“When I was choosing these products over the summer, I wanted to bring in items that are fair trade, non-GMO and organic as much as possible,” she said. “I know that that’s important to a lot of people and important to the environment.”

Freese said the products’ price points were based off other retailers’ who sell the same items.

“The main thing we were looking for with the price point is taking a look at what it costs us, basing it on what Sprouts is selling it for,” Freese said. “We looked in Albertsons and Stater Bros. as well, but Sprouts is the one that we had most in common with and we decided to base our price point off their price point.”

The Poly Trolley Truck on campus also offers vegan, vegetarian and lactose-free options. Some ingredients at the food truck can also be easily be substituted at no extra charge. Some of their vegetarian options include the California Avocado Burrito, Soyrizo Burrito, Flavor Tots and Seasoned Fries. Some of these items can be made vegan by simply asking employees to remove cheese, tempura or any other ingredient that isn’t considered vegan for something else, such as avocado.

The Polly Trolley also serves Starbucks Coffee, so baristas can easily substitute regular milk for almond, soy or coconut milk. Whipped cream can also be removed upon request.

Campuzano said the foods of this kind carry a considerable markup in price on campus.

“I shop at Trader Joe’s and I look specifically for Perfect Bars,” she said. “The Starbucks on campus sells them for over $4, but at Trader Joe’s they’re $2.”

Trader Joe’s does sell the bars for only $1.99, whereas the Starbucks on campus sells individual Perfect Bars for $3.45, which is a 54 percent increase in price.

This example illustrates another reason why students are having a hard time finding food on campus catering to their dietary needs. Not only are there limited options, but several of these options are overpriced as well.

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