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Tobey-Kendel Hall

Food Allergies and Dietary Needs

Dining Services at the University of Northern Colorado strives to provide reasonable accommodations for students with food allergies and specific dietary needs. We support you by providing information to help you make informed food choices while dining on campus.

We know that eating together can be a crucial piece of how community is created on campus. We also believe it is vital to your overall success here at UNC that you make connections with your peers -- and eating together in the dining room is one way this can be accomplished.

For students who have food allergies and specific dietary needs, that piece of the puzzle can often times be a bit more challenging.

We are committed to working closely with you to provide reasonable arrangements so you can participate in the campus dining experience as much as possible. Your dietary needs are personal, so we take into account your specific needs and help provide the tools you need to actively manage your allergy or food-related medical condition within the dining program here at UNC.

Your Health. Your Safety. Your Responsibility.

We will help you as much as we can, but ultimately, you have certain responsibilities when it comes to managing your food allergy/needs in the dining room. We need you to help us out with a few items -- so we can better help you.

  • Notify us of your allergies and/or dietary needs.
    • Don't be afraid to talk to us. If we don't hear from you when you have questions or when you're struggling, we assume you are successfully navigating the dining rooms. We can't help solve the problem if we don't know there is one.
    • Attend informational meetings and help develop your navigation plan.
    • Provide medical documentation, if requested, to Disability Resource Center.
  • Be mindful and use the resources available to you.
    • Be aware of your surroundings to reduce the risk of cross-contact. This is especially important at our self-serve stations because not all customers will be thinking about the issues you face every day.
    • If you are unsure about the ingredients in a dish, ask a manager for assistance and/or information before consuming the food.
    • Review the menus, recipe ingredients, and allergen information using the Bear Bites online menus.
  • You know yourself better than anyone, so be pro-active in managing your food allergies/needs.
    • Recognize common sources of, and avoid, foods to which you are allergic.
    • Recognize symptoms of allergic reactions.
    • Know how and when to tell someone you might be having an allergy-related problem.
    • Properly use medications.
    • Carry emergency contact information with you.
    • Review policies and procedures with Dining Services and your physician.
    • In case of exposure, carry any medication (e.g., EpiPen, Benadryl, etc.) with you at all times. Consider informing those you commonly dine with about your medical needs in case of emergency.

Your Resources - what we can offer you

There are many services and resources available to help you manage your food allergy/needs. Here are a few examples:

  • Informational Meetings
    • You can schedule a meeting with our Registered Dietitian (or any dining room manager) to help you to develop an individual plan to navigate the dining rooms. 
  • Ask Questions
    • Our staff is available to help address ongoing questions and concerns.
    • Ask the cashier if you don't know who to talk to. They can get you in contact with a manager within a minute or two.
  • Our Dining Facilities
    • We are happy to give you a tour of the dry/cold food storage so you can review ingredients personally (with advanced notice, of course). 
  • Bear Bites (online dining room menus)
    • You can look at nutritional information and use the filter to exclude allergens or specific dietary restrictions.

Getting Started

We are here to help you, so we want to meet and discuss your needs. An initial meeting with our Registered Dietitian will help us gather information about your specific dietary needs and how you have managed them in the past.

Schedule a meeting

To get started, all you need to do is email our Registered Dietitian (Matthew Doyle, RDN) and request a meeting. Remember to include specific days/times that would work best.

Create Your Plan

During the consultation with our Registered Dietitian, we will review the accommodations that are available to you, introduce you to key personnel, and give you a tour of one of the dining rooms (usually the one you'll be eating in most of the time).

We are able to accommodate most students who have dietary needs, so you should be able to work out a plan to help you navigate the dining rooms.

If we are unable to reasonably accommodate your dietary needs, an alternate plan may need to be discussed (like moving to a residence hall that does not require a meal plan). We may be able to compromise and allow you to carry an alternative meal plan. In rare cases, a meal plan exemption could be granted.

Medical documentation will be required for all meal plan changes or exemptions and will be handled by the Disability Resource Center.

Specific Allergy Information

We safely serve customers with food allergies every day. We work hard to ensure all managers and staff members participate in Food Allergen Awareness Training -- for your safety and ours.

It is important to remember that we use manufacturer-provided information regarding the presence of allergens; we do not confirm the lack of an allergen. As a result, we may not be aware of ingredients that are in the food but not listed on the container or packaging. We periodically review ingredients to verify labeling is consistent with what is provided by the manufacturer. Ingredients listed may be subject to change without notification.

IMPORTANT: Please be sure to check our Bear Bites online menus before choosing food which commonly contains anything you may be allergic to.

  • Peanuts / Tree Nuts
    • Both peanuts and tree nuts may be present in desserts, sauces, condiments, and/or garnishes.
  • Milk
    • Milk and milk derivatives (casein, whey, lactose) are present in numerous products which are used in our recipes.
    • Soy milk and rice milk are available in each dining room and are located in a separate area.
  • Eggs
    • Eggs and egg derivatives (albumin, lysozyme, lecithin, ovalbumin) are present in numerous products which are used in our recipes, including baked goods.
  • Fish
    • Though fish recipes may be easily identified, sauces and ingredients (like Worcestershire sauce and salad dressings) may contain fish.
    • The DASH food station is free of 7 of the 8 top allergens -- fish is the only allergen served at that location.
  • Crustacean Shellfish
    • Though shellfish may be easily identified, sauces and ingredients (like glucosamine) may contain shellfish.
  • Wheat
    • Common food additives listed on foods labels may appear as malt, food starch, and gluten.
    • Individually packaged foods like packets of jelly, butter, peanut butter, and cream cheese may be used in our dining rooms to reduce the likelihood of cross-contact. 
  • Soy
    • Soy and soy derivatives are commonly used in food manufacturing and may be listed as vegetable gum, soy lecithin, or vegetable protein (for example).

In Case of Emergency

We make every effort to provide you with the information you need to make decisions about which foods to eat in the dining rooms. However, the possibility for a reaction still exists in community dining. If you have been prescribed an auto injector, we recommend you carry it with you at all times -- especially when you're in the dining rooms.

If you are exhibiting symptoms of anaphylaxis, please get help immediately. If you are in one of our dining locations, our management team will handle calling UNC PD in the event of an emergency, so please let us know if you are in trouble. If you can, administer your auto injector. Please don't go back to your room alone -- and be sure to notify your RA/Hall Director as soon as possible about your experience.

Working Together

We are committed to helping you to get the most out of your campus dining experience.

You are encouraged to contact us if you believe that you cannot manage your allergies/needs effectively in the dining rooms. If you still believe that participating in the meal plan program is not right for you, you can petition to be released from the meal plan requirement. You will be required to submit a petition that documents your rationale for this request. Documentation from your treating physician is required to help the Disability Resource Center (formerly called Disability Support Services) determine if you can be served by the dining program. Dining Services will then evaluate if it is feasible to meet your expressed, documented needs.

If you are released from the meal plan, having access to appropriate kitchen and food storage facilities is necessary. A room change may be required to facilitate the canceling of the meal plan. If you are not released from the meal plan requirement, you may be allowed to carry a lesser/upperclassmen meal plan.

For more information, please contact our Registered Dietitian, Matthew Doyle, at 970-351-1961 or matthew.doyle@unco.edu. For general information, you're always welcome to contact the main office at 970-351-2652 or diningservices@unco.edu

Important Disclaimer

We've said it before, but it's important enough to say again. Please remember that we cannot 100% guarantee the accuracy of nutrition information. Ingredient and nutrition content are pulled from the USDA food database, and manufacturer/ingredients and are subject to change without our knowledge.

UNC Dining Services serves and uses the following products, among others, in meal preparation: milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, wheat, and products containing gluten and soy. Dietary information is available upon request. Students who have dietary or allergy-related questions or concerns about any item offered by Dining Services should contact the Dining Room Manager or the Dining Services Office. For more information or if you would like further clarification regarding Dining Services policies, please contact the Dining Services Office located in Tobey-Kendel Hall, Room 120, call 970-351-2652 or email diningservices@unco.edu.

Living On Campus

Having a roommate in college is an important developmental milestone. Learning how to live with another person and how to compromise and resolve differences are critical life skills. Managing your food allergies independently and being an advocate for yourself are additional key skills to develop. If you have a roommate, it will be important for you to communicate effectively with them about your concerns. Most roommates truly want to have a harmonious relationship and are willing to help make the environment safe for you.

In addition to communicating with your roommate, you should also let your Hall Director and RA know about your food allergies so that, when feasible, alternate food options can be provided at hall events.

There are a limited number of single rooms available on campus. If you feel strongly that you require a single room due to a severe food allergy, you will want to contact Disability Resource Center for information about the housing accommodations process. A medical team will evaluate whether a single room is a reasonable housing accommodation due to your specific dietary needs.