skip navigation nih record
Vol. LXVI, No. 15
July 18, 2014

previous story

next story


Have a question about some aspect of working at NIH? You can post anonymous queries at (click on the Feedback icon) and we’ll try to provide answers.

Feedback: We decided that we would attend Take Your Child to Work Day at NIH as a family. While the activities were well done, there was an issue with the cafeterias. My husband has celiac disease and cannot have gluten and also has diabetes. I thought the 10/B1 cafeteria was offering gluten-free bread upon request with their sandwiches. Well, the sandwich ladies had no idea what we were talking about. We asked one of the managers, who knew nothing, who went and asked the head chef, who stated “there are no gluten-free foods today.” They were of no help whatsoever. Even the salad bar looked like a disaster area with massive cross-contamination between the different items. He eventually found a pre-packaged salad at the cafe in the CRC atrium, but by then his blood sugar was quite low—any lower and he would have needed a trip to OMS. One would think that at the NIH, the cafeterias would be more cognizant of employees, patients and visitors with special dietary needs. Don’t you think it reflects badly on the NIH when someone comes for a visit and cannot even eat at the cafeteria because they refuse to accommodate special dietary needs? Do you realize that in-patients at NIH get better food, specialized food, healthy food, while the rest of the NIH population has to deal with the unhealthy junk that the cafeterias serve?

Response from ORS: The Office of Research Services, Division of Amenities and Transportation Services (DATS) has the responsibility for oversight of all NIH campus cafeterias and convenience stores. We apologize that you did not have a pleasant experience in the 10/B1 café during Take Your Child to Work Day. However, with an additional 3,000 customers, that was not a typical day in any of the campus cafeterias.

All of our food providers are committed, to the best of their abilities, to supporting and attending to the different dietary needs of our customers, such as celiac disease. For example, Eurest Dining Services regularly takes extra precautions when offering foods that are gluten-free. Unfortunately, Eurest was concerned that the vendor who was supplying their gluten-free products was not adequately addressing the issue, so they removed them recently from the 10/B1 café—thus the reason there was not any gluten-free bread available. We apologize that this was not communicated correctly to you and your family when you visited the café. Eurest is currently sourcing another vendor to provide a “made without gluten” pre-packaged bread item that we feel will be better for our customers.

We did want to point out that since all of the kitchens do handle products with gluten, any food that is unpackaged and handled in those kitchens is no longer considered “gluten-free.” We understand the importance of correctly advertising this type of information, as it could have a significant impact on our customers, their family member or our patients’ health.

DATS works closely with all its food services contractors, in conjunction with a number of the institutes and centers, to improve the offerings and nutritional selections available in our cafeterias. In addition, Eurest employs a registered dietitian dedicated to NIH operations. If any NIH employee or patient would like assistance in identifying foods that meet their specific needs, we would encourage them to make an appointment with the Eurest on-site registered dietitian, Beth Dorman (

Please note that other healthier food choices may also be found through Eurest’s Balance program, which includes entrees that meet established guidelines in sodium, fat and calories. Also, Eurest annually provides outreach tables in all the cafeterias staffed by NIH registered dietitians to answer questions from our over 20,000 daily customers. There are also periodic chef-led demonstrations on healthier recipes that Eurest can make available upon request.

Feel free to subscribe to the Food Services listserv ( food/Pages/foodlistserv.aspx) and follow our NIH Employee Services Twitter page (@NIHEmplSrvcs) where we offer newsletters, nutrition news, upcoming events and announcements.

Feedback: What’s the mysterious smoke emanating from a giant hole outside of Bldg. 31C? The area stays fenced off, and every so often workers come and peer down at whatever’s smoldering, but there’s never a resolution and repair of the hole.

Steam has been emanating from a broken pipe near the C wing of Bldg. 31
Steam has been emanating from a broken pipe near the C wing of Bldg. 31

Response from the Office of Research Facilities: The smoke is actually steam coming from a break in the piping that supplies the utility to all heating equipment in 31C. The Office of Research Facilities could not conduct repairs in the winter, because in order to do so, the utility would need to have been taken offline and the steam was needed to heat the facility, maintaining safe use, operation and no interruption for the occupants. ORF enters the fenced area regularly to closely monitor the break for further failure and to ensure that the pumping system removing any water from the hole and around the piping is working correctly and maintaining a safe level.

Now that summer has arrived, ORF has scheduled repair to the system during the months of July and August. During the period of repair, temporary electric water heaters will be employed in order to provide hot water for sinks and fitness center showers.

Final repairs, including grounds restoration of the repair site and removal of fencing, are scheduled for completion in middle to late August 2014.

back to top of page