Of the many complaints I may have about Brandeis’ dining services, lately there has been one that outweighs them all: the lack of lactose-free yogurt options in the C-Store and in the dining halls.
I cannot count the times that I have tried to buy lactose-free (or dairy-free) yogurt and have been unable to find any. As someone who is lactose intolerant, I find this to be a constant problem. The lactase pills don’t work for me with something as rich as yogurt, and there are other students with a similar problem—those who cannot have dairy at all or who follow a vegan diet. Yet nine times out of 10 when I walk into the C-Store, I leave empty-handed because the lactose- or dairy-free yogurts are out of stock. It has been stocked sporadically throughout the semester, and sometimes I can wait a day or two and be able to buy some. But for the past few weeks, every time I’ve tried, I have been unable to buy a single container of lactose-free yogurt.
In the C-Store, there is an abundant amount of options for regular yogurt. You can choose between regular, organic, Greek, smoothie—the list goes on. There is also a wide array of different fruit flavors. But on the rare occasions when the C-Store does have lactose-free yogurt, the only flavors offered are “plain” or vanilla. One brand, Almond Dream, is made with almond milk and has a watery, jelly-like consistency and a taste not unlike a watered-down bowl of cereal. The other brand, So Delicious, is made with coconut milk and tastes significantly better, but any flavor other than plain is rarely in stock, so the yogurt just tastes vaguely of coconut. While the first improvement is to stock more lactose-free yogurt in general, once it’s on the shelves, it could also be offered in a wider variety of flavors. Additionally, both Usdan and Sherman have offer yogurt, but never with a dairy- or lactose-free option.
I see two causes to this problem: Either not enough is being ordered for the C-Store, or it’s flying off the shelves too quickly. If it’s the former, I can speak for myself and others I’ve talked to who would greatly appreciate a greater stock of lactose- or dairy-free yogurt in the C-Store. If it’s the latter, high demand is only an additional motive to order more.
Some people might say that since I’m lactose intolerant, maybe I just shouldn’t eat yogurt. However, lactose intolerance really limits the ways that you can get enough calcium, and I’ve had problems in the past with low calcium levels. Aside from supplemental vitamins, lactose-free options of dairy-rich foods are one of the best ways to get calcium.
This is also a relevant issue for vegans as well, as the lack of dairy in their diet limits how much calcium they get per day. They face an even trickier situation, as not all lactose-free products are dairy-free (lactose can be removed from dairy products). Offering dairy-free yogurt would be beneficial to those following a vegan diet on campus, especially because their options are also significantly restricted by mandatory meal plans and the dining hall. Fortunately, the C-Store often has soy milk, which is definitely a perk. But more often than not when I try to get soy milk in the dining halls, there is none left. And the yogurt in the dining hall is never dairy- or lactose-free.
Of course, lactose-free yogurt, in various flavors, is available in nearby grocery stores like Hannaford’s. But since I live on campus and thus am obligated to be on an expensive meal plan, I would rather use the points that I have already paid for instead of spending more money off campus. It is frustrating to not be able to use points on products I then have to buy in a grocery store.
This may seem like a very small complaint: no lactose-free yogurt. But it is a frustration that adds up when relying on campus dining services. Especially with the outrageously high cost of meal plans, I don’t want to have to spend more money off campus, when I’ve already paid to eat at Brandeis. Stocking more lactose-free yogurt would be an easy fix in the C-Store, and perhaps even in the dining halls, that would greatly benefit many students.