Dealing with Allergies
With the number of people in the United States reporting a food allergy rising — a recent survey found that one in 13 children have at least one — college and university campuses are seeing, and serving, more students with special dietary requirements.
On-Campus Hospitality spoke with Maria Acebal, chief executive officer of the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network (FAAN), which is celebrating its 20th anniversary as a source of information for those affected by food allergies.
We asked her what points she most wanted to get across to college and university foodservice professionals serving those with food allergies. “The first thing I would say is that food allergies can kill,” she said. “That is such an important point because the words themselves, 'food allergies,' work against us because most people associate food allergies with itchy eyes, runny nose — something that is bothersome, but not life threatening. When someone tells you or starts to talk to you and they have a food allergy, pay close attention because it could be a life and death conversation for them. Those of us who don't live with it can't imagine that one mistaken bite can risk your life.” ...
Tulane — Meeting Students' Special Dietary Needs
At Tulane University in New Orleans, La., students with special dietary needs have a wide variety of allergen-safe foods from which to choose.
“We've got about 40 students,” said Travis Johnson, executive chef with Sodexo, the campus foodservice provider. “They range anywhere from Celiacs (a gluten allergy) to starch. I have a lot of different combinations. There are about seven or eight students who have a combination.”
When students with special dietary needs arrive on campus, they contact Dining Auxiliaries, who puts them in touch with Dining Services. “Once we have an initial conversation, we start doing tours through our dining hall,” he said. “We will tour the dining hall and talk through the options we have.” ...
Pizza is a mainstay on any college campus. When students do not know what else to have, they often choose a slice, and it is a good idea to offer them a variety of pizza choices.
At Concordia College in Moorhead, Minn., Dining Services has found a way to offer a number of unique pizzas to give students the variety they request.
“Customers always ask for more variety and that is inherent to the business,“ said Janet Paul Rice, associate director of Dining Services. “Even if it is the best food in the world, they eat here every day; it becomes tedious so we are always looking for something — even if we only serve it once a month — to add interest and variety to the menu. They ask for variety and we give it to them in whatever form we can come up with.”