Managing Food Allergies in Higher Education

About the Webinar

This session will describe the most common food allergens and how they are currently being addressed and managed on today’s campuses. URMIA is partnering with NACUFS, the National Association of College & University Food Services, and our members at Oregon State University to discuss how collegiate dining services, in conjunction with other campus partners, are taking proactive steps to create awareness, educate students, and develop standards of prevention and response around student food allergies.

After participating in this session, attendees will:

  • Understand food allergens, best practices for prevention, and appropriate responses during emergency situations, including the use (or non-use) of epi-pens
  • Learn how the collegiate foodservice industry plays an important leadership role on campuses across the country in addressing this critical student health and wellness issue
  • Learn about potential risks to various stakeholders on your campus if this issue is not well managed
  • See how campus partnerships, student education, signage, food labeling, food preparation, gluten free stations/zones, and written protocols should be part of a strategic approach to address and prevent allergic food reactions at your school

Did You Know?

  • Researchers estimate that up to 15 million Americans have food allergies.
  • Food allergies affect 1 in every 13 young adults and children.
  • Young adults with food allergies are at the highest risk of fatal allergic reactions.
  • There is a difference between a food "allergy" and a food "intolerance." A food allergy involves a reaction of the immune system (an allergic reaction), whereas a food intolerance does not. Allergies are generally more severe and can be anaphylactic, resulting in death.
  • 90% of all food allergies are caused by the "Big 8": Eggs, Fish, Milk, Peanuts, Shellfish, Soy, Treenuts, and Wheat.

Tips of the Day

Addressing Food Allergy Exposures

  • Be aware of potential ADA considerations related to food service operations on campus (see Lesley University vs Justice Dept., December 2012).
  • Provide gluten-free and allergen-free food options in dining hall.
  • Allow students with known allergies to pre-order allergen-free meals.
  • Display notices concerning food allergies and identify foods containing specific allergens.
  • Train food service and university staff about food allergy-related issues (cross contact is an important, and often unrealized, exposure).
  • Provide a dedicated space to store and prepare gluten-free and allergen-free foods.
  • Partner with other campus departments to address concerns, such as Disability Access Services, Food Services, and Student Health Services.
  • Make resources and information available online to student and staff about dining options and food allergy/intolerance risk.


Tara Sanders

Assistant Director/Registered Dietitian
Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR

Tara Sanders is the Assistant Director and Registered Dietitian for Oregon State University Housing and Dining Services. Tara graduated from South Seattle’s Culinary Arts program and served many years as a culinarian prior to graduating from Central Washington University with a degree in Food Science and Nutrition and completing her dietetic internship through the University of Northern Colorado. Tara has worked both in the public and private industries as a chef and nutritionist. Her passion is to use these combined to promote nutrition and sustainability in dining services.


Kerry Paterson, CEC

Director of Residential Dining and Catering
Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR

Kerry Paterson joined University Housing & Dining Services in the summer of 2013. Paterson has more than 25 years of culinary experience and started his career in New Zealand where he earned the highest degree in culinary arts. He comes to Oregon State after 13 years of experience and leadership as an executive chef and an assistant director of dining services at University of Colorado's Boulder campus.

Patrick Hughes, J.D., CRIS

Chief Risk Officer
Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR

Mr. Hughes is an accomplished Chief Risk Officer for a top-tier research university, with over 25 years combined experience as a Chief Risk Officer, Risk Manager, Human Resources Administrator, practicing attorney, and insurance professional. Concurrently, he serves as an adjunct professor for NW Christian University, teaching Business Law for the graduate school, and Legal Issues in Higher Education for the undergraduate level. He also is a Trustee and Vice-Chair for the Public University’s Risk Management Insurance Trust, (PURMIT) and served as a Trustee for the Property and Casualty Coverage for Education Pool. (PACE). His current position oversees all risk management, environmental health & safety and emergency preparedness functions, resulting in a wide breath of knowledge, skills, risk assessment and categorization. Current organizational memberships include URMIA, PACE, WACUBO and RIMS.