The new reality for college dining halls: Dozens of dietary restrictions

For the staff of the Michigan State University dining halls, serving roughly 27,000 students each semester has never been a picnic. But these days, the job involves an even bigger challenge: One in six of those students has an allergy or other dietary restriction. Just five years ago, it was one in eight.

In the lead-up to this fall term, Kelsey Patterson, the school’s registered dietitian, responded to messages from 300 parents and students about dietary strictures that included life-threatening allergies and a host of special diets based on health, environmental, religious or personal concerns.

To deal with allergies alone, two dining hall chefs, Jordan Durkin and Brittany Lesage, enlisted an outside company to approve every new ingredient used at Thrive at Owen, a four-year-old dining hall that’s free of the nine major food allergens listed by the Food and Drug Administration. They taught the staff how to keep allergens from getting into the Thrive kitchen, and devised a rotating menu that excludes basic ingredients like milk, eggs and wheat.

Read more from The New York Times.


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