Food allergies are an unfortunate and often aggravating nuisance that afflict various teenagers’ lives. Going to something as simple as an overnight camp can bring with it the inherent risk that cross-contamination that may result in a teenager getting very sick. Finding foods that adhere to dietary restrictions can be quite challenging in a buffet-style environment.
According to the Food Allergy and Education Society for America, about one in every thirteen children have some sort of food allergy, and thirty to forty percent of these afflicted children have more than one allergy.
In order to ensure the safety of all students involved, it takes an informative and committed staff to help each and every student who has dietary needs find something they can eat. Being allergic to eggs, milk, soy and nuts as I am, I am often subject to having to navigate through and extensive number of hurdles in order to find something I can eat. I’m not alone; in fact, three members of the six-member Upstart staff have some sort of food allergy!
The head chefs at MSU are accustomed to serving thousands of students who have food allergies per day, so providing gluten-free and meat-free dining options is nothing new to the MSU staff. Six executive chefs work throughout campus, and as such, rigorous training is required before a cook can be promoted to chef. From preparing meals beforehand to communicating with the teenagers’ parents, the MSU dining and food services staff makes sure every student has a warm and hearty meal to eat. According to the Michigan State University Website, all hired chefs, food service managers and full time team members have taken an allergy safety course, AllerTrainU. In fact MSU received the 2017 Best Overall Food Allergy Program award at the National Restaurant Association Show in Chicago. In addition to this added precaution and recognition, all foods that are being served are labeled with common allergens that they may contain.
As food allergies are becoming more common in the young adult demographic section, it certainly appears that the MSU dining staff is committed to providing a rewarding dining experience for all those involved.
Nathan Stearns has written an opinion column for The Upstart. His views do not necessarily reflect those of the publication.