Nutrition and Allergy Information

SJU Dining Service Nutrition Philosophy

Saint John's University Dining Service's nutrition philosophy is based on the belief that a healthy way of life can be achieved through exercise, nutrition and education. The goal of the SJU Dining Service's nutrition philosophy is to optimize health by encouraging decisions based on food quality and moderation. 

  • We encourage an approach to eating that promotes lifelong wellness and discourage the "dieting" mindset.  We urge our guests to make sustainable dietary and lifestyle choices.
  • We feel that the best healthy eating plan emphasizes fresh, whole foods like vegetables, fruits, legumes, whole grains, nuts, lean proteins and low- fat dairy/ dairy alternatives.  These wholesome foods offer vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, fiber, protein, healthy fats and carbohydrates while at the same time minimize excess calories, added sugars, saturated and trans fats, salt, additives and chemicals. 
  • We promote mindful eating and portion-control as important components of achieving and maintaining the health of bodies and the local ecosystem. Choosing meals and snacks thoughtfully helps to minimize the amount of food that ends up in the trash or wasted in our bodies when we consume excess out of boredom, habit or convenience.
  • We acknowledge that maintaining a healthy lifestyle is a process.  While we wish for all of our guests to strive for healthy lifestyles and eating plans, we do not play the role of the "food police".  We recognize that appropriate portions and food choices are unique to each individual based on cultural heritage, family traditions and life experiences, and that healthy meal plans can include the occasional "treat"! 
  • Finally, we value the health of our SJU community and strive to provide the most pleasant dining experience possible. 

Frequently Asked Questions 

  1. I'm trying to lose weight and eat healthier. What is there for me to eat on campus?
  2. I'd like to know how many calories are in this- where do I find nutrition information that will assist me?
  3. What do you serve that's local, natural, sustainably produced, or organic?
  4. Do you have any gluten- free options?
  5. I'm allergic to ____________. What is there for me to eat?
  6. I have a suggestion for the menu. Who should I talk to?
  7. Can I get the recipe?
  8. Where else can I get reliable nutrition information?
  9. How can I preorder a special diet meal? 

1.  I'm trying to lose weight and eat healthier.  What is there for me to eat on campus?

First of all, congratulations for making a commitment to healthy eating!  SJU Dining Service provides many nutritious options for those who want to lose weight or just follow clean, wholesome dietary habits.   

At the Refectory: 

  • Whole grains should make their way into every meal- we offer 100% whole wheat breads at the deli, oatmeal and bran cereals for breakfast, wheat pastas and brown rice at the International station, quinoa and wild rice casseroles featured on our Homestyle line, and wheat hamburger and hotdog buns at the Grille. 
  • Our salad bar is always full of fresh fruits and vegetables.  We also offer low-fat salad dressings, nuts, beans, hard cooked eggs, low-fat yogurt, and cottage cheese to transform any salad into a filling, nutritious meal. 
  • Steamed and roasted vegetables are served daily. 
  • Our beverage line contains many healthful, low-calorie options like soy milk, hot herbal teas, skim milk, 100% fruit juices, and ice water. 
  • We try to make as many foods to order as possible, which means that you are able to fully customize your meal and adjust portion sizes to meet your individual needs.  Skip the cheese on your sandwich, heap the broccoli on your baked potato, use tofu in your stir-fry, just take half a piece of lasagna, add spinach to your omelet... 

At Sexton Commons: 

  • Start with a wheat bun and load up on fresh sliced vegetables on the sub line.  Try adding hummus to your sandwich in place of mayonnaise to cut back on fat while adding flavor.  
  • Watch for healthier pizza options, including vegetable toppings and thin, wheat crust. 
  • In place of French fries, round out your meal with premade salads, vegetable cups, yogurt, and fresh fruit cups found in the grab-and-go coolers. 
  • Try baked tortilla chips and pretzels instead of potato chips. 
  • Veggie burgers are always available by request and are a healthier alternative to hamburgers.  Look for grilled chicken and fish sandwiches in place of fried. 
  • The beverage area also contains many healthful, low-calorie options like soy milk, hot herbal teas, skim milk, 100% fruit juices, and ice water. 

Still not sure what a healthy meal plan looks like for you?  For one-on-one nutrition counseling, contact Adria Gillitzer, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist at [email protected].

2. I'd like to know how many calories are in this- where do I find nutrition information that will assist me?

Our daily Refectory menus can be found at: .  Please note that although we update this database regularly, nutritonal values and ingredients may change without notice due to unforseen circumstances.  We are also a self-serve facility, and so cross-contact may occur.   Please contact Adria Gillitzer, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist at [email protected] with questions. 

For general calorie and nutrient information, please visit an external resource like CalorieKing or USDA National Nutrient Database.

SJU Refectory does not post nutritional information at the stations for three reasons: 

  1. ACCURACY.  The Refectory is an all-you-care-to-eat dining facility and many of our items are made to order and customizable.  This model increases customer satisfaction and also helps us control food waste since customers are able to take as much (or as little) of an item as they'd like.  But this also means that portion sizes are not consistent, and consequently the nutritionals vary considerably.  It would be infeasible to post nutrition information for all portion sizes (i.e. a smaller piece of fish, just half a sandwich, extra cheese, etc.)  
  2. VARIABILITY.  We buy food from many different vendors.  Over the summer and fall months we buy produce directly from local growers.  The SJU greenhouse provides us with lettuce throughout the winter.  Sometimes we buy the same types of items from many different vendors to get a better price or to create diversity in our menus.  We strive to provide a variety of healthy and tasty foods to our customer, which means that we use literally hundreds of recipes.  (Some of these recipes even come from the kitchens of our own students and staff during our Home Sweet Home recipe contest!)  So nutritional information could become inaccurate or outdated. 
  3. RESPONSIBILITY.  The National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders has reported that approximately 20% of American college students have or have had an eating disorder (anorexia, bulimia, and/ or binge eating disorder) at some point in their life.  So for the CSB/ SJU student community of 3800, over 750 students could be struggling with an eating disorder at any point during their college years (that's the equivalent of all of the students living in Aurora, Brian, Lottie, and Margretta hall COMBINED!)  Since eating disorders are a serious mental and physical health concern, we do not feel that it is appropriate to display nutrition information to college-aged students that are more susceptible to restrictive eating habits.

3.  What do you serve that's local, natural, sustainably produced, or organic?

A lot!  SJU Dining Service is committed to placing an emphasis on buying local and increasing the amount of sustainably grown food served on campus.  Here are some ways that we are bringing a more sustainable dining experience to the SJU community:   

  • Our goal is to have 20% of our food to be locally- sourced.  We are currently at about 19.5% annually. 
  • Fresh lettuce from the student- run SJU Solar Greenhouse during the winter months. 
  • Refectory hosts Local Foods Days to showcase local, seasonal foods throughout the school year. 
  • The Saint John's Abby cultivates a two-acre garden to provide fresh produce for the monastic community. 
  • Partnership with Barthold Recycling to bring all food waste to local pig farms. 
  • Fresh apples from Plum Crazy Orchard every fall. 
  • Whenever possible, we serve milk and dairy products from Stony Creek Dairy, brats and hamburgers processed at St. Joseph Meat Market, buns and rolls made at the Dutch Maid Bakery, mushrooms from Forest Mushrooms and summer produce from various local producers. 
  • Use only 100% recycled Tork Napkins in our dining rooms and compostable takeout containers at the Refectory. 

For more information about our commitment to environmental stewardship, check out Sustainability at Saint John's.

4. Do you have any gluten- free options?

Yes we do.* Sexton Commons has many prepackaged items that do not contain gluten.  Yogurt cups, fresh fruit, salads, plain hamburgers and chips are good choices for those following a gluten- free diet. The Refectory has a station that is dedicated to gluten- free baked goods, cereals and condiments.  Many gluten- free options are available daily, including meats, steamed and roasted vegetables, fresh fruits and vegetables on the salad bar, etc. We also offer gluten- free menus for catered meals. 

For more information about how to eat gluten- free with SJU Dining Service, contact Adria Gillitzer, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist at [email protected]

*Please note that the Refectory is an all-you-care to eat facility, and both Sexton and the Refectory use gluten- containing ingredients.  Although we try our best to minimize it, cross- contact of food and potential allergens can occur. 

5. I'm allergic to ____________.  What is there for me to eat?

SJU Dining Service is dedicated to meeting the nutritional needs of all guests, and we can accommodate most dietary requests, food allergies and intolerances.  For more information, please contact Adria Gillitzer, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist at [email protected].

6.  I have a suggestion for the menu.  Who should I talk to?

Customer feedback is always appreciated!   Submit your comments at our online feedback form.  All feedback is anonymous, but include contact information if you'd like someone from the SJU Dining Service team to get back to you.

7.  Can I get the recipe?

Yes, you can request recipes at our online feedback form.  Don't forget to include your contact information.  You can also contact Art Martinez, Culinary Manager and Chef at [email protected].

8.  Where else can I get reliable nutrition information?

There are several places:

FitDay--free online program to track food intake, exercise, weight loss, and other health goals.  Be your own weight loss coach! 

MyPlate--not sure what a healthy diet might look like for you? Want to see how your diet and physical activity measure up?  Check out this link to answer these questions and more.  

Joanne Larsen's Ask a Dietitian--real questions and answers to keep you informed.

Mayo Clinic--everything from symptom checker and recipes to health tools and quizzes to healthy living and first aid information.

USDA Food and Nutrition Info Center--up to date information and resources on a wide variety of nutrition, health, and exercise-related topics for the consumer.

Academy of Nutrition and Dietietics--formally known as the American Dietetic Association, this organization is "your link to nutrition and health."  Links to the AND's evidence- based nutrition library. 


9.  How can I preorder a special diet meal?

To preorder special diet meals, please contact Adria Gillitzer, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist at [email protected] to gain access to the online ordering form.  This option is offered to students that are registered with the Student Accessibility Service department and meet medical documentation that warrents the special meal.  More information available at: