The SBU Eats dining program is able to accommodate students, faculty and staff with food allergies and dietary intolerances by offering support as a team to make a collaborative effort to ensure everyone has the opportunity to dine on campus. SBU Eats’ number one priority is safety when it comes to food allergies and dietary intolerances.
“I believe that the best nutrition practice is customization and every food allergy or dietary intolerance should not and cannot be treated the same,” stated SBU Eats Dietitian Laura Martorano.
When anyone has a food allergy or dietary intolerance, SBU Eats recommends that they meet with Martorano to complete a profile through the Practice Better app to start making a direct connection to the dining team. This connection is important so that the dining team is informed about their food allergies, dietary intolerances or special needs. After completing a profile, the app enables users to book appointments with Martorano, send messages, upload documents and create a food journal with photos to log and track food intake and lifestyle habits.
“Our goal is to make the process for navigating food allergies and dietary intolerances easy through open lines of communication and developing a rapport with the dietitian, managers and chefs. By offering reasonable customization through strategic planning we can create delicious meals that coincide with each person’s dietary needs,” explained Martorano.
The Stony Brook University community uses the Nutrislice app to view menus before going to dining locations and to apply filters for special dietary needs. Last spring, SBU Eats rolled out a digital labeling system at East Side and West Side dine-in so that all guests could view the ingredients and nutritional information for the items being served. Guests simply scan the QR code on the digital labels to view menu item descriptions, ingredients, allergens and calorie counts on the Nutrislice app. This fall, Nutrislice mobile ordering launched to provide guests the convenience of quick order pickup for retail locations on campus.
Now through the innovative insight of Martorano, a further enhancement of the Nutrislice app is being used to provide meals for those avoiding gluten. Martorano launched this as a pilot program and has future plans to expand the program to offer customized meals that are free from the nine major allergens (sesame, egg, milk, wheat, shellfish, fish, soy, peanut and tree nuts) and other potential allergens that may be present at the dining locations.
Allergen-Safe-T Kits and Purple Utensils
Each dining location has an Allergen-Safe-T-Kit that the SBU Eats team uses when a customer asks to have their meal prepared separately because they have a food allergy or dietary intolerance. These “purple kits” are used to cook a customized meal using separate kitchen smallwares. The kits include separate pots, pans, spoons, baking sheets and more so guests receive a customized and allergen-sensitive experience. These kits use purple utensils to easily identify that it can only be used for preparing food for meals that have concerns related to allergies and dietary intolerances and to avoid cross-contamination. SBU Eats team members have been extensively trained in allergy awareness and procedures to prevent cross-contamination. All dining managers wear a SBU Eats red shirt so guests can easily identify who to speak with regarding their dietary concerns.
Dining locations also offer a customized meal form that enables guests to communicate their allergens to the staff, schedule a pick up and then receive a fresh, made-to-order meal that is customized specifically for them. Guests can ask for the form at any register and then speak with a SBU Eats dining manager.
Also noteworthy is that West Side Dine-in is a nut-sensitive location, which means the culinary team does not make any meals or bring in any items that are made with peanuts or tree nuts. Those with allergies need to be aware that products and ingredients may change and may be processed in facilities that contain/handle peanuts and tree nuts unbeknown to the dining team; therefore, if you have any concerns, it is best to check with the SBU Eats dining manager.
SBU Eats also offers Teaching Kitchen allergen workshops. Sign up online through the website.
“Our goal is to provide everyone with a great opportunity to dine with us on campus in a safe and supportive environment,” stated Martorano.