As a customer success advocate at Hubert, I often connect on K-12 industry trends with food service directors. When speaking with Jeanne Pierce, I immediately sensed her passion on creating allergen awareness in her food service program. As the food service director for Exeter Region Cooperative School District in New Hampshire, she is experienced in serving K-12 students with food allergies.
Having a vision is the key factor to the success of her Allergen Awareness program. She has been trying new recipes and encouraging the cooks to bring in ideas and take ownership of the changes to provide students with healthier, fresh meal options.
“Each year we tour the food service area with parents,” Jeanne said. “We show the parents the allergen free zone where the food is made daily. The purple allergen kits we purchased at Hubert got the parents attention. The parents know we are committed to allergen safety. We communicate with each family affected by food allergies and have a good understanding of the child’s needs; this is a huge success to the program.”
A Kit for Comfort
Jeanne told me that she was given a piece of advice that sticks with her in her career. She said that asking a parent to send a child alone to a big city is the same fear that parents have when they send a student to school with a food allergy. Jeanne wants to keep these parents at ease and create acceptance and awareness of food allergies in her program.
Allergen Kits provide a sense of relief to parents sending students to school with allergens. Having an allergen program in place increases the confidence of parents, and in return the students are now eating at school. The purple color of the kit stands out in a busy kitchen when staff is quickly preparing food. The color allows staff to easily identify products and the kit provides a barrier to protect the products from cross contact.
Allergen Awareness Kits for Serving Students with Food Allergies
Training and Tools for Success
Training and labeling products and equipment is also a key factor to having an allergen free zone.
“We buy some pre-packaged foods for students with allergens and slowly introduce new foods dedicated to each allergen,” Jeanne said. “We started small with an allergen pizza kit serving gluten free pizza to students.”
The school is introducing an oatmeal station with pre-portioned nuts to prevent cross contamination as well. The important part of creating an allergen program is creating awareness for students and staff. Students need to know what they are eating and be aware of the seriousness of allergens that affect their peers.
Jeanne is moving in the right direction with one new achievement at a time. The school also serves new foods on “Try it Tuesday.” Students try dragon fruit and salmon burgers to name a few. Awareness is the key factor in the success of their food service program.