Allergen-Free Menu Full of Flavor

Date: November 4, 2019 Posted by Amy Mail Twitter Facebook

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Food allergies and intolerances are becoming more prevalent in schools and care programs today. Students’ allergic reactions may range from hives and sour stomachs to life-threatening conditions. NutriStudents K-12 gives scholars with food allergies delicious options at mealtimes with our special menu that eliminates seven of the most common allergens: dairy, gluten, soy, eggs, fish/shellfish, tree nuts and peanuts. Our allergen-free meal includes:

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Each entrée can be paired with the grain of your choice -- cilantro or garlic brown rice, or gluten-free tortilla chips. You choose the fruit or vegetable to offer to complete the meal. This menu is available under the "Lunch" dropdown menu in the client portal and should be used for any student with a food allergy who has a Special Diet Statement (example) on file with your district, as required by USDA for meals to qualify as reimbursable. To keep students safe, foodservice managers, students and parents should not try to determine if a menu item on the regular menu contains an allergen as some allergens may not be obvious without reviewing labels or could be missed when reviewing a label.

Our allergen-free menu intentionally uses minimally processed foods and relatively few ingredients because manufacturers frequently change the ingredients in the foods they sell to schools. Neither manufacturers nor the USDA are required to report ingredient/label changes to food distributors, School Food Authorities (SFAs)/schools or foodservice management companies/caterers. The lack of notification is the single biggest challenge schools have when guaranteeing allergen-free meals do indeed omit risky ingredients. We recommend checking labels frequently to identify changes and potential allergens.

You may have concerned parents who request to verify nutritional details on the foods you serve. We understand their concern, however, we ask that you do not share our proprietary recipes with them. Our recipes are the intellectual property of NutriStudents K-12 and are only provided to our clients for their exclusive use and to share with reviewers conducting USDA Administrative Reviews. We also discourage you from providing CN labels to parents as well given the frequent changes to labels.

Some students have dietary restrictions recommended by specialty doctors or dietitians but do not have a Special Diet Statement on file. In Offer vs. Serve schools, students can select foods that conform to their diet to build a reimbursable meal when multiple options are offered. If students want to omit grains from their diet as a preference, for example, they could build a reimbursable meal by choosing at least three of the remaining four components required (required components are meat/meat alternative, milk/dairy, fruit, vegetable and grain).

Lactose-Reduced Milk: Parents of students needing lactose-reduced milk can simply submit a written request to the schools. A Special Diet Statement is not required.


Category: School Food