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

Dining hall workers at Stanford University in Stanford, Calif., have been asked to remove stickers worn in protest of working conditions at the school’s dining halls, The Stanford Daily reports.

School officials say that the stickers with the statement “Respect and a Fair Workload” go against a union-university agreement that states union members may not wear “insignia [with] any message that is vulgar, profane, or disparaging of Stanford, or that results in conflict or disruption in the workplace.”

In a conversation with The Daily, Seth Leibson, senior organizer for SEIU...

Industry News & Opinion

The School Nutrition Foundation has named its five School Nutrition Heroes for 2018.

The honorees were nominated by their peers and then selected by the SNF for helping end hunger for homeless and low-income students and their families.

Those chosen are:

Paula Angelucci, child nutrition director, Colonial School District; New Castle, Del. Anthony Terrell, culinary specialist, Shelby County Schools; Memphis, Tenn. April Laskey, director of school nutrition, Billerica Public Schools; Billerica, Mass. Lynne Shore, food service director, Willamina School District;...
Sponsored Content
spring desserts

From Bistro Collection® Gourmet Desserts.

Consumers and operators alike often associate seasonal desserts with pumpkin pie, gingerbread and candy canes—after all, winter is a season closely associated with indulgence.

But after the winter holidays, when people are hitting the gym and holding themselves to New Year’s Resolution diets, desserts don’t get as much attention. For operators, this can mean a lag in sales of sweets—but it’s not a lost cause. Updating springtime dessert menus to reflect the change in what diners are looking for can generate excitement and boost...

Industry News & Opinion

Sidney Central School District in Sidney, N.Y., has received $58,783 from the state to improve its farm-to-school program, The Daily Star reports.

The grant will be used to aid in appointing a farm-to-school coordinator and assistant who will help source local farm products for 10 districts in the region for NY Thursday, an initiative where cafeterias attempt to serve meals made entirely by local ingredients every Thursday.

The funding is part of a $12 million award spread among 12 districts throughout the state by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Read the full story via...

FSD Resources