Dining with severe food allergies, sensitivities, or restrictions can be anything but relaxing. At Meriwether Godsey, we believe safely enjoying a delicious meal should never be in question. Safely serving tens of thousands of meals daily requires intentional systems, procedures, and relationships to promote allergen safety.
Core to our approach is:
Education and Training: Meriwether Godsey team members are required to receive a ServSafe Certification to provide them with the tools to properly handle allergens, cross-contact prevention, identify hidden allergens in ingredients, and provide alternative menu option suggestions for our guests.
Clear Menu Labeling: Awareness is a critical aspect of safety. We use high-visibility signage, including digital displays and decals, labeling allergens for every menu item. Our easy-to-use menu app, MyMenus, allows guests (and parents) to find dining options that meet their needs quickly. Users can customize their dietary restriction profile to highlight recipes that contain items they want to avoid. “Clear signage with particular attention to known allergens gives guests control over their choices and provides peace-of-mind,” said Director of Program Design and Development Chris Blain. This effort does not stop with allergens but also includes dietary restriction or preference labeling. Signage to highlight vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free items allows diners to make informed decisions. We are also expanding dietary restriction convenience labeling for halal and kosher items over the next year.
Collaboration with Customers: Building personal relationships with and within our communities is the cornerstone of a proactive safety program, especially when severe or life-threatening allergies exist. This collaboration starts with the organization. Some require nut-free campuses or have strict standards for added sugars or gluten. Once we understand the organizational preferences, we turn to the individuals to ensure they are served properly. This dialog begins with sit-downs with the administration to better understand community dietary restrictions or allergies present in the community and often progresses to one-on-one meetings with guests and parents to discuss strategies, dining preferences, and accommodations. For our younger guests, we can assign a staff member who can act as a guide during meals.
“We had a young lady who was Gluten Free, Dairy Free, and Peanut/Treenut Free. Additionally, she had a number of other allergies from peaproteins to carrots,” said Christian Huynh, an MG Director of Dining Services, “When we met with both her and her parents, as an incoming student, they expressed to us that at her previous school she had a bad experience where someone served her something she was allergic to which put her in the hospital. Because of that experience, she was understandably wary of dining settings. We committed to making á la carte meals to meet her specific needs daily. Our Special Diet Culinarian was up for the job to meet once a week and discuss what our student wanted in the upcoming days for our team to execute. We had this young lady for 3 years and firmly won back her trust in Dining Services.”
Culinary Systems: Allergen information is not always easy to access, so we have dedicated culinarians and dietary professionals monitoring and maintaining dietary information across thousands of products. By tracking ingredients through menu planning, ordering, delivery, preparation, and service, we and our guests can be confident that our signage, mobile app, and recipes are all in sync. “Our culinary operating system, Galley, acts as the source of truth for our recipes, menus, and ingredients along with the accompanying nutritional information,” says Derek Carbonneau MG’s Chief Technology and Marketing Officer. “This information can be maintained in a single system and then utilized confidently across the enterprise.” Recipes are compiled into menus and cycles to be provided to accounts and customized to meet each community’s needs, including allergen safety. Production records are generated so that account leadership can provide allergen information for every station before service begins for the day to update menu boards with allergen information. This same information is collected in our MenuHub for serialization to our mobile apps and servery displays. Meaning parents at home can help younger students plan meals with confidence.
Substitutions and Menu Adaptations: The Director and Chefs work together to navigate allergen constraints, offering an exciting assortment of allergen-free alternatives. Our Director of Culinary and Brand, Chef Cate Smith, enthusiastically shared some of her favorite recipes we serve, including Roasted Cauliflower and Lentil Tacos, Hearty Vegan Mushroom Bolognese, and Spicy Red Lentil Sauce. We take great care to ensure these dishes stand on their own merits – often becoming favorites of those with and without dietary restrictions. We’re all about turning allergen management into a seamless and enjoyable experience. Our dedicated teams go above and beyond to ensure a safe dining experience for all because here at MG, we sweat all the details.
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Director of Program Design & Development