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Chartwells Launches Technology For Students With Allergies

Published: Sun, Sep 28th, 2014

The State University of New York at Plattsburgh is the first Chartwells partner to launch new dining technology utilizing a website and app filter that quickly lists and isolates meals, minus ingredients recognized as containing one or more of the eight major food allergens and gluten. The technology also categorizes meals served on campus at each venue by listing menu items that meet vegan and vegetarian criteria.

Foodservice providers and campuses are often contacted by potential and current students as well as parents seeking information about foods served that do not contain allergenic ingredients or are vegan or vegetarian. The eight major food allergens include egg, milk, soy, wheat, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, and shellfish. Students and parents are also concerned about the choices and availability of meals that can accommodate individuals with gluten sensitivity and celiac disease.

Careful pre-planning is required to safely manage food allergies on a daily basis. Campus dining is thoroughly involved in helping students effectively manage food allergies and other meal preferences. It's important to let students with food allergies know that they can find great food options and variety available throughout campus dining. Chartwells is providing useful information and convenience to help students when it comes to food consumption and the management of food allergies through its unique website and app filter technology. The app and website paired with live discussions and regular meetings with a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) and campus dining management are truly important resources for students to successfully manage food allergies for an enjoyable academic experience.

Food Allergen Notification
Students and parents should notify the campus, including dining services management, about any known food allergy in order to develop a plan that meets specific dining needs for the student. Campus dining can review food service processes with students and parents to develop a convenient plan for ongoing engagement to support the student's ability to make food choices with confidence to minimize the potential for an allergic reaction.

According to Patti Girardi, Chartwells' Vice President of Marketing and Creative Services, "Tremendous effort was put into building the first allergen filtering web tool created by Chartwells at the request of SUNY Plattsburgh's College Auxiliary Services. This technology is a one-of-a-kind customized solution that isn't in use anywhere else. A dedicated team of quality assurance professionals and many devoted team members helped make this happen. In the future, different variations of the functionality may be developed to support additional campuses where Chartwells manages dining operations."

How the Special Diet Filter Works
Using any smart device, students can access the Chartwells Dine On Campus website or app that both include the filtering tool which enables students to view what's on the menu at various SUNY Plattsburgh campus dining venues. By using the "special diet filter" function, a student can choose which allergen(s) to identify. The technology then sorts through the food items listed on the online menu and removes those meals that contain the allergen ingredient chosen by the student. For example, if a student is gluten sensitive, by checking the gluten box then closing out the message window, the page refreshes and removes any foods made with gluten ingredients from the online menu. In addition to the eight major allergens, vegan and vegetarian options are included and identified by a special icon. Furthermore, as part of Chartwells' Balanced U health and wellness platform, detailed nutritional information such as calories, recommended portions and much more information is provided so students can maintain healthy eating habits.

Real-time Updates Safeguard Service
Meals or menu items are prepared by chefs following approved recipes as well as those specifically made without certain food ingredients. Campus dining understands that it is critical that the recipes are precisely followed from the approved recipe database and prepared without any substitutions. In the event that an ingredient must be substituted or replaced, a full-time onsite Chartwells Senior Allergen Analyst makes real-time changes to the recipe and menu database as well the website and app. Chartwells' allergen expert maintains the accuracy of the information shared on the various systems that safeguards the entire process allowing seamless delivery to all allergen communication vehicles.

According to Wayne Duprey, Executive Director for SUNY Plattsburgh College Auxiliary Services, "The allergen sensitivity filter technology, along with our campus dietician and trained dining services staff, provide added value for our students. Allergen sensitivity remains a consistent concern for many parents during the college vetting process. I am pleased that we are able to provide information that fills the gap in communicating critical information to students and parents."

Food Allergy Training
A significant amount of effort and training regarding allergy awareness occurs behind the scenes to ensure guests receive accurate information. All managers are required to complete a certified food allergen and celiac disease training course. All production staff and hourly associates are also trained. Additionally, each campus dining venue is required to have an allergen trained associate on duty to further assist students and guests with ingredient questions and food choices. Chartwells' President and CEO, Steve Sweeney, added, "We want students with food allergies to have an enjoyable, safe, and worry-free dining experience. The access to immediate meal information made possible by this technology advancement provides students with a powerful tool allowing more freedom to dine on campus. Chartwells will continue to enhance technology within its dining operations that support the needs of clients and students."



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