Colleges work to meet needs of students with allergies

Dining services departments take a hands-on approach to ensure food safety.

TORONTO, ONTARIO—When her son David Parkinson was a little boy with allergies to seven different foods, Susan Leavitt shuddered at the thought of him leaving home one day to go to university. The idea of a young man at risk for anaphylaxis eating mass-prepared food in a huge dining hall alongside hundreds of students seemed unfathomable.

“I hope he gets into NYU or Columbia, there’s no way he’s going to leave New York,” she recalls thinking. But as David grew up and learned to take responsibility for his allergies, both mother and son gained confidence. When he first entered university, Susan knew that her son could live on campus and manage his allergies – that is, provided the food services staff could be relied on to do their part.

As it turned out, could they ever. At the University of Delaware, David had the honor of having his meals prepared by the university’s executive chef of catering. The two would meet to go over the menu for the week ahead: what was being made, what David wanted, and how they could make it work for him. David could even call ahead and let the kitchen know when he would arrive. The chef was so mindful of David’s needs that he insisted the freshman promise to only eat food directly from the kitchen. One time, David broke that rule and was eating something from a self-serve area. A staff member came rushing over to scold: “Where did you get that!?”

More From FoodService Director

Ideas and Innovation
sriracha bottles

Generally, I’m not one to make New Year’s resolutions. They tend to be grandiose and unrealistic—and why not just resolve to start doing/not doing that thing you’re not doing/doing right away instead of going hog wild until Jan. 1? (New Year’s Day also is my birthday, and if you can’t eat at your favorite Thai restaurant and sip bubbly then, well, when can you?)

I do, however, enjoy the raucous singing of “Auld Lang Syne” to ring in the new year, though I’ve never been quite sure whether you’re supposed to be remembering the year fondly or happily putting it out of mind. While I...

Managing Your Business
briggo coffee haus kiosk

Though diners’ appetites for coffee are seemingly bottomless, adding a full-service coffee shop to every corner of a facility probably isn’t in the playbook. Here’s a look at how two operators added coffee service with relatively small footprints—with one decidedly futuristic (robot barista, anyone?), and the other low-tech but nimble.

Specialty coffee vending at Dell

Dell has a full-service Starbucks on its Red Rock, Texas, campus, but the location isn’t always convenient for a quick coffee pickup. “Certain times, you go into the bistro, like 7 a.m. to 9 a.m., there’s quite a long...

Ideas and Innovation
baked bread

Instead of sourcing value-added product to reduce labor, the food and nutrition team at University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics in Madison outsources its baked goods to a local shop that hires only formerly incarcerated workers. The bakery was able to hire two new former inmates in order to keep up with the volume needs of the hospital. “We want to be really entrenched in the community, not just have a building that sits in the center of Madison,” says Amy Mihm, clinical nutrition specialist for the hospital.

Ideas and Innovation
cold storage boxes

When working with a small footprint, the back of the house often gets squeezed in the interest of preserving precious seats. But as storage space contracts, these restaurant operators are getting resourceful with everything from shelves to ceiling height to inventory in ways that FSDs can apply, too.

“When we were first tasked with figuring out smaller footprints, when it came to interiors, it was like a bad riddle,” says Trinity Hall, SVP of development for Dallas-based Dickey’s Barbecue Pit, which shrunk its prototype from 2,200 square feet to 1,800. “Let’s make it smaller and...

FSD Resources