SAGE’s first priority is keeping our students safe and healthy. For this reason, food allergies need to be considered just as seriously as any other threat. SAGE’s research of its client population found that 1 in 12 students has a food allergy. For students with food allergies, meals can bring uncertainty and fear. We alleviate that fear through our allergy management program.
Since peanut allergies are the most common and severe, SAGE doesn’t serve peanut or tree nut products (*unless specifically requested by a venue). In addition, SAGE doesn’t purchase any products with a warning label for being manufactured in a facility where there may be cross-contamination with peanuts or tree nuts unless we can verify that the company has manufacturing practices in place to mitigate the risk of cross-contact. This policy reduces the possibility of potentially fatal allergic reactions—but as a precaution, all Managers are trained to recognize anaphylaxis and use an EpiPen®.
An expert team of five Registered Dietitians reviews each and every ingredient used in recipes, and tags them with the 12 main allergens recognized in the U.S. and Canada. The Dietitians also review every menu to ensure there’s enough variety for every student.
SAGE enforces Serve It Safely food allergen protocols for food storage, preparation, service, and cleanup to prevent cross-contact. At the point of receipt, Managers are checking all product deliveries, reading product labels, and storing to prevent cross-contact. Safe food preparation involves following recipes, cleaning and sanitizing food contact surfaces, controlling allergen hazards at the grill, stove, and fryer, and dedicating equipment and areas to allergen-free food preparation. Prior to service, the Team conducts daily meetings to highlight any allergen-containing dishes so that they can inform students what’s in them. During service, all menu items in the dining hall that contain the 12 main allergens recognized in the U.S. and Canada are labeled so that students and faculty can identify allergen-free items easily, and vessels and utensils are chosen carefully to prevent cross-contact at food bars. Finally, Team Members follow protocols for washing hands, wearing gloves, and cleaning equipment and surfaces.
SAGE feels that no community members should be singled out, or have to sit at a designated location, simply because they have a food allergy. Parents and students can find safe foods and plan for meals using the online menu allergen filter, which greys out food items containing certain allergens, and by looking for those items that are clearly marked on the serving line. Students should also feel comfortable talking to any SAGE Manager about what’s being served that day and what allergens each menu item contains. Finally, parents are invited to make an appointment to walk through the kitchen, examine ingredient labels, and observe preparation methods.
By providing a variety of options every day, and easily accessible technology to identify safe food options, SAGE makes it easy for those with food allergies and other dietary restrictions to find safe meals.