On Starting a Gluten-Free Pilot, for Samantha Mozdzierz

Samantha Mozdzierz talks about creating a gluten-free pilot program for Birmingham Public Schools.

In April Seaholm High School, part of Birmingham Public Schools in Michigan, started a gluten-free menu pilot. FSD talked with Samantha Mozdzierz, district dietitian with Sodexo, which manages the account, about the pilot.

Q. Why did you start the gluten-free menu pilot?

We started it because there is a growing need for gluten free in the schools, so we wanted to pilot it in one of the high schools to see if kids would be interested in buying gluten-free items. I speak with a lot of parents who express that their children have a gluten allergy or gluten intolerance and then we have a couple of staff members at the high school who are on a gluten-free diet as well. Seaholm High School was the pilot location. At Seaholm there was more of a need and demand [for gluten-free items]. We wanted to try it at one high school and see how it worked out and then possibly move it on to the next high school. We selected the high school because they have a deli station where we can set up a gluten-free station and we can make the items so they don’t have to be premade so the kids can come up and order them.

We hope to expand the pilot next year to another high school, and we are looking at expanding the menu as well.

Q. What menu items do you offer?

We have a gluten-free option at the deli bar every day. There are lettuce wraps with roast beef, corned beef, ham or turkey. We also have gluten-free garden salads and chicken salads. The salads are grab and go. We make the salads ourselves. We make all the gluten-free items ourselves. Gluten-free bread is not that appealing and it is very expensive, so we are focusing on lettuce wraps. We are finding that other kids who are on a vegan diet, for example, are taking advantage of the lettuce wraps also. Our salads were already gluten-free to begin with, so I just put a sticker on it to advertise that it is gluten free.

Q. Are the gluten-free items part of a reimbursable meal?

They can be part of a reimbursable meal or sold à la carte.

Q. What kind of training did you do with your staff before starting the pilot?

I did an inservice talking about the gluten-free diet and the importance of eliminating cross contamination and focusing on safe food handling practices when working with gluten-free products.

Q. What advice would you give others who want to start a similar pilot?

Use the resources available. Some of the vendors have lists of what is gluten free. Talk with your vendors to see if new gluten-free products are coming out. There are gluten-free soups so that’s an option for us. Educate yourself and your staff.

More From FoodService Director

Industry News & Opinion

Risley Dining Room at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y., has just become 100 percent gluten-free, 14850.com reports.

For the past two years, the university has slowly phased out gluten in the dining hall’s menu by eliminating it in its stir fries, biscuits and brownies.

Instead of offering gluten-free versions of typical college fare, including pizza and pasta, the dining service team aimed for more sophisticated restaurant-style items.

Along with being gluten-free, Risley is also peanut free and tree-nut free.

The dining room is the second college eatery...

Industry News & Opinion

James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Va., recently hosted a weeklong program called Weigh the Waste, which aimed to show students how much food gets wasted in dining halls, The Breeze reports.

Throughout the week, students placed food they were about to throw away on a scale located near the trash bins at one of their dining halls. At the end of the week, the school tallied the waste and saw that 817 pounds of food had been wasted.

School officials hope that the annual program, which it’s hosted since 2015, will remind dining hall patrons to only take as much food as...

Industry News & Opinion

The University of Maryland will begin offering weekly specials at all of its dining halls this semester, The Diamond Back reports.

The weekday specials will allow Dining Services to offer past menu items that students miss as well as new dishes students have been requesting, according to a spokesperson.

Students can find out which specials are being offered each week via dining hall table tents as well as through Dining Services’ social media. During select weeks, the specials may reflect a particular theme, such as Taste of the South.

Read the full story via...

Managing Your Business
hand chip card

Between menu planning, budgets and the other myriad concerns FSDs face, it’s easy to overlook the simple ID and/or cash cards issued to diners. But making the choice to upgrade technology can unlock the potential of these once-humble cards: They can be room keys, event tickets and, perhaps most importantly, a needed additional layer of security.

That’s the future of student IDs at the University of Notre Dame, which will switch from magnetic strip cards to chip-based ones in August 2017. “Traditionally, the ID cards have been used as point-of-entry access for dining operations,”...

FSD Resources