University Housing and Dining opens Thrive Station
For students with food allergies, eating the foods they love can be difficult. When multiple allergies arise, students struggle to find eating not only the foods they enjoy, but items that do not contain any of their allergens.
Enter, Thrive, a station located in Burge Market Place where students can enjoy entrees made just for them. Opened in the fall of 2018, this station is void of gluten plus the top eight food allergies (fish, shellfish, egg, wheat, soy, peanuts, tree nuts, and milk).
“We really saw Thrive as an opportunity to meet the needs of the student population today, many of which have not just one, but multiple food allergies. Accommodating a student’s allergy needs can be a major contributing factor for a prospective student in deciding on whether or not to attend the University of Iowa,” said University Dining dietitian, Laura Croteau, RD, LD.
A great challenge is making food that actually tastes good. “We didn’t want to serve just vegetables,” said Burge Market Place Chef, Crystal Bounds. “Students that eat at this station should not feel like they have to miss out on the foods their friends are eating just because of their allergies. We’ve worked hard to provide them with the foods they know and love, but that are free of allergens.” Some of the many menu items include pancakes, wings, nachos, sandwiches, pasta, quesadillas, and breakfast bowls.
One of the biggest issues with food allergies is cross contact, which can be harmful for many students. Knowing this, University Dining took several measures to avoid the issue. One of the most important aspects is making sure staff are knowledgeable about the importance of food allergies. In order to accomplish this, dining staff that work at this station underwent specific allergy training. The training stressed the importance of having the staff serve the student, rather than the student serving themselves to prevent utensil/food contact. To further ensure students would be able to avoid cross-contact during food preparation, all foods in the station are prepared in a separate kitchen.
University Dining hopes that this station not only better meets students’ needs, but is also a model to other institutions. “Many institutions do not have this option available to students. With each new student population, the needs are different. We hope that by providing Thrive we are able to not only meet students’ needs, but be a leader for campuses across the country,” said, Croteau.
2019 Year In Review
This article is part of the 2019 Year in Review, which highlights some of the Division of Student Life's accomplishments from the previous academic year.