The Gluten-Free Zone at Notre Dame of Maryland University
It’s Food Allergy Awareness Week. Roughly 15 million Americans have food allergies, and at SAGE, we know the significance of these numbers firsthand. Just last year, we conducted a study of food allergies across our venues, and our leadership presented on accommodating for food allergies as disabilities at the National Business Officers Association (NBOA) conference.
We go the extra mile to keep our food-allergic customers safe at every venue by:
- Staffing an expert team of Registered Dietitians;
- Enforcing thorough Serve It Safely protocols;
- Providing an innovative online menu allergen filter;
- Labeling all menu items in the dining hall containing the 12 main allergens;
- Inviting parents to walk through our kitchens and examine ingredient labels;
- Prohibiting the use of nuts and nut products at K-12 schools;
- Conducting daily pre-shift meetings to highlight any allergen-containing dishes;
- Training all Team Members to recognize anaphylaxis and use an EpiPen®.
Beyond our rigorous standard practices, there are a number of additional ways our Team Members go above and beyond for students with food allergies. Let’s hear from some of these venues!
Kim Rojas, AFSD at Greenhill School, TX
"I always try to make sure that students with food allergies are eating basically the same item as everyone else. We make gluten-free, dairy-free, and egg-free versions of each day’s menu items so food-allergic students don’t feel 'different' from other students."
Emily Hodecker, FSD at The Peck School, NJ
"We’ve purchased distinctly colored utensils and cutting boards to prevent cross-contamination from dairy items. When we have dairy-containing desserts, students know we have Oreo® cookies and Italian ice available in the kitchen, in addition to the fresh fruit we offer daily. We’ve introduced an additional serving bar, The Dairy Bar, where we serve all items containing milk or eggs (yogurt, cheese, mayonnaise, some salad dressings) to lessen the risk of contaminating the other two bars."
Robyn Kunze, FSD at Phoenix Country Day School, AZ
"I go to parent association meetings and discuss why the allergen filter is such an important tool for parents to use to help keep their kids safe. I also meet with parents one-on-one to discuss ways to help their food-allergic children make the right meal choices."
Harley Darnel, FSD at Crofton House School, BC
"We have a specific area in the kitchen where gluten-free items are prepared. I’ve walked several parents through our kitchen, and their reaction is always the same — relief, trust, and admiration of its organization and cleanliness."
At SAGE, we know that the best allergy management programs go beyond caution and towards inclusion, calling upon the creativity, compassion, and collaboration of our Team Members. Keeping students safe isn’t enough — we need to make them feel safe, too. That means being a knowledgeable resource, guiding students’ food choices with honesty and tact, and above all, fostering relationships founded on trust. We’re proud to take on this responsibility at every venue, every day.