Sodexo welcomes new district dietician Lexi Cournoyer to teach students how to make mindful food decisions.

By Emma Eidsvoog

Lexi Cournoyer, the Sodexo district dietitian, likes ice cream, but not just ice cream. She likes salmon and potatoes in all forms: mashed, fries, baby reds, sweet. She likes raspberries and brussel sprouts as well. 

Cournoyer started as Sodexo’s district dietitian in May. Before the fall semester began, she helped plant potatoes, zucchini, bell peppers and tomatoes in the Monson Dining Center vegetable garden. 

Cournoyer attended the University of Wisconsin-Stout where she received her Bachelor of Science in Dietetics and played club hockey. She came to Bethel with the desire to educate students to develop a good relationship with food, helping them live a happy and healthy life.

Q: What is your favorite part of being a dietitian?

A: “Being able to educate students on nutritional aspects to incorporate nutrition on everyday lives. Any educational presentation or tabling is what I like doing the best. In October, I brought in different local apples from farms in the Twin Cities. This promotion supported local businesses and had students trying different types of apples. In November, I will be making healthy baking alternatives to holiday treats. This is to promote getting in the kitchen with friends and family and cooking with each other while making healthy alternatives. The habits that you develop now are going to carry for the rest of your life.”

Q: What are some changes in the Dining Center?

A: “Greater education for staff as far as what food allergies are and how we need to prepare a safe meal for students. Expanding our gluten-free procedures at each station. They now have a gluten-free fryer for french fries so students can order those. They also expanded the Grainery station by adding a gluten-free toaster and a cooler of dairy-free and gluten-free options.

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A gluten-free pizza made in the dining center contains gluten-free dough, marinara sauce and vegan cheese. | Photo by Katie Viesselman

It’s good for students to know that we aren’t specifically a peanut-free or gluten-free facility. More so, for them to be educated and making sure they are asking the questions that they need to so that they’re getting the safe meals they need.”

Q: What is a gluten-free diet?

A: “People follow a gluten-free diet because they’ve been diagnosed with celiac disease. This happens because gluten, which is a protein found in wheat, barley and rye, attacks the small intestine. It causes damage to the villi and leads to malabsorption and malnutrition. Following a gluten-free diet stops that damage from happening. Someone asking cooks for a gluten-free option could mean that they have celiac disease or someone could have a gluten intolerance where they might need to limit gluten intake per meal or per week.”

Q: How can students utilize your expertise?

A: “They can ask questions about navigating the dining hall, eating healthy as a college student and knowing healthier, mindful options on campus. It’s important to help students find that balance. Pizza has its place, but fruits and veggies have their place too. If they have any dietary accommodations, I can be a good resource to help them as well. If they are looking to see different mindful options in dining halls, they can suggest ideas to me and I will work with the chefs to see what we can do to develop healthier options.” 

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