2020 FARE Award Winners: Top Campus for Food Allergies
Best Campus Dining Award - Michigan State University
An expert panel of judges scored over 20 nominations and the votes are in. The 2020 winner of the Best Campus Dining Award is ... Michigan State University!
Not only does Michigan State University (MSU) offer an array of allergy-friendly options in their retail and residential dining halls across campus, but MSU is home to a certified free from dining hall, Thrive, which restricts the Top 8 allergens plus gluten. For those allergic to foods beyond the Top 8, they offer full ingredient lists online to allow students to review menu items and assess ingredients. Taking this a step beyond the dining halls, MSU Concessions developed a venue called Lower Bowl, which provides options without the Top 8 allergens plus gluten in their football stadium, featuring customizable rice bowls on game day!
Honorable Mentions for Best Campus Dining Award
North Carolina State University
North Carolina State University prides itself on menu transparency and inclusivity, and it shows. They label for the Top 8, plus sesame and gluten in all dining locations, and offer full ingredient information through their robust website and app. Their Worry Free Stations in each dining hall provide allergy-friendly options and dedicated gluten-free toasters to mitigate cross contact. Dining staff is trained each semester in food allergy safety and their Registered Dietitian is always available for individual consultations.
They want to stand above the crowd and offer “Get Well Kits” for students who are feeling under the weather, and they have developed gluten-free, nut free, vegan and wired jaw options. They also have a student group called Safe Eats that brings students with dietary restrictions together for support and inclusivity. The dining team even hosts allergy-friendly events for the group throughout the year.
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Our reviewers loved that University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill offers a 100% voluntary meal plan, but goes the extra mile to ensure all students who want to participate in the meal plan can do so safely. Their dietitian, Kelli Wood, has shown a dedication to students with food allergies, and offers an open door to students who need help navigating the dining halls. Along with the executive chef, Kelli provides allergen safety training to employees.
UNC Chapel Hill offers an allergy-friendly station called Simply Prepared, which omits of 7 of the Top 8 allergens (fin fish is served occasionally) plus gluten. Kelli uses nutrition software to analyze ingredients and recipes to offer full ingredient lists accessible through their website. Changes to a menu or recipe can be updated instantly and are audited regularly to ensure accuracy. Across campus, there are digital menu boards at point of service that call out the Top 8 allergens to make the ordering process easy for students.
Community’s Choice Award - Baylor University
Decided by an impressive 30,000 community votes, the Community Choice Award went to Baylor University for its highly collaborative work between dining, disability, and housing services. The school also offers a Worry-Free Station, which is a dedicated kitchen free from peanuts, tree nuts, gluten, and shellfish.
“I have worried about my son his entire life. I became a stay at home mom just to volunteer at the schools,” said a Baylor University student’s parent. “Baylor has done such an amazing job, I feel comfortable sending him 900 miles away.”
Their nomination noted that food is well-labeled and staff at the dining hall are not only knowledgeable, they take the time to get to know the students. Not to mention, students are not forgotten about at special events, where there is always staff available to help students navigate the food options.
Honorable Mention for Community's Choice Award - Babson College
“Over my time at Babson, I saw the staff do their best to build out better options, constantly seeking feedback and working with different recipe ideas to be inclusive. Their dietitian Shavaun Cloran, was the biggest advocate and supporter for people like myself.”
Their nominations noted that they offer allergy-friendly stations and have worked to expand options over time based on student feedback. Students are not restricted to the allergy-friendly station. They have the option to have custom meals prepared from a variety of meals in the dining hall. While Babson College is a small school with only about 2,300 undergraduate students, they garnered over 10,000 community votes. It’s also worth noting that their dietitian, Shavaun, was mentioned by name in multiple nominations as an amazing advocate and resource for students with food allergies.
Community Choice Nominees
While the voting is over and Baylor has been awarded the prestigious honor of Community Choice Winner, FARE wants to acknowlege all six colleges or universities that were chosen for voting based on nominations from the community.