1. We provide access to ingredient information for made-to-order* items. *Made-to-order - Meals that are prepared on request and to your specification in the dining hall. Examples include a sandwich station, omelet station, burrito station, etc.
2. We provide access to ingredient information for self-serve* items. *Self-serve - Meals that are served buffet-style in a dining hall. These are typically high risk for cross-contact and are best avoided by diners with food allergies.
We post all of our ingredients in the dining commons, by the dish, as well as on line. If there is a question, students are encouraged to ask a manager or chef or dietitian.
3. We have procedures in place to lower the risk of cross-contact in made-to-order areas.
We take care to avoid cross contact as much as possible. Our associates are trained to avoid cross contact by changing their gloves and cleaning and changing out utensils when they change tasks and make or serve different recipes. For Pure Eats stations, associates are careful to prepare ingredients in separate areas and cook foods for our allergy friendly stations in separate ovens. Purple-handled utensils, cookware, cutting boards and thermometers are used when prepping Pure Eats dishes.
4. We have procedures in place to lower the risk of cross-contact in self-serve areas.
All cooks and chefs are allergen trained at least twice a school year, and often more frequently. We focus on cross contact as much of our food is self served. We work to educate our associates (cooks, frontline associates) to follow standardized recipes as written so as not to introduce any item to the dish that is not on the recipe card. Frequent production audits are performed to assess recipe adherence and production processes and to stay informed of new products being purchased. Separate serving utensils are used to serve each dish or food item and utensils are changed frequently to mitigate guest cross-contact.
In addition, Northwestern University has been working closely with Ruchi Gupta, MD, MPH, a pediatrician and leading allergy researcher at Northwestern, and author of Food Without Fear, a book on living with food allergies. Dr. Gupta's team worked with NU Dining to create an educational video, allergy passport and toolkit to help incoming students prepare to navigate dining and advocate for themselves.
5. We have pre-order meals* available. *Pre-order meals - Custom meals that can be ordered in advance by a diner so they are ready for pick up at a specific time. Typically these can be ordered online or by phone/text.
Because of COVID-19, some of the current offerings have changed.
6. We have an allergy-friendly station*. *Allergy-friendly station - A food station where specific ingredients are banned, typically including many or all items in the Top 8 allergens and gluten.
We have Pure Eats stations in all of our four residential dining commons. These stations avoid gluten and the top nine food allergens including sesame. These stations are all served by a cook or chef (never self-served) and consist of a main dish, vegetable side, grain or starch side, salad and cut fruit. We also have an Avoiding Gluten breakfast pantry area in all dining commons that features gluten-free cereals and gluten-free bread with toaster.
In addition, peanuts and tree nuts do not enter our residential kitchens, so we do not cook or bake with them. We use sunflower butter instead of peanut butter, and have individual portions of sunflower available to help prevent cross contact.
Ingredients are listed at each stations; this information is also available on line on our dine on campus app.
7. We train dining services staff members.
We conduct allergen training for our associate at least twice a school year, and we have frequent reminder training. We show associates our food allergy video recently created and provide information pocket cards to reinforce information.
8. We have a registered dietitian* on staff. *Registered dietitian - Registered dietitians are food and nutrition experts who are often tasked with helping students with food allergies navigate the dining halls.
9. We train our RA's.
10. We have inclusive resident life programs* including food. *Inclusive resident life programs - Programs in the resident halls often include food. Inclusive resident life programs will offer students with food allergies the opportunity to request safe food alternatives for events they attend in the dorms.
11. We offer accommodations for roommate assignments. *Every accommodation request is evaluated on a case-by-case basis. A housing accommodation cannot be guaranteed prior to an individual evaluation.
12. Our disability office processes food allergy and celiac disease accommodation requests.
Students wishing to request housing and/or meal plan accommodations may do so via Northwestern's Housing & Dining Accommodation Portal. All requests are reviewed by a University committee comprised of members from Undergraduate Financial Aid, Counseling and Psychological Services, Residential Services, University Health Service, Northwestern Dining, the Dean of Students Office, and other campus partners.
Every effort is made to accommodate students’ needs within our housing system and meal plan using the alternatives available. The meal plan contract does not permit exceptions based on religious dictates, personal food choice or preferences (e.g. vegetarianism), or other non-medically-based, dietary requirements. If a request for a meal plan accommodation is received, the University’s dietitian will be consulted and recommend a final decision.
13. We have stock, undesignated epinephrine* available for emergency response. *Stock, undesignated epinephrine - Epinephrine that is prescribed to a college or university rather than to a particular student. This epinephrine is kept on hand to use for any student that experiences anaphylaxis.
14. Our campus emergency responders carry epinephrine.