University of Maryland Dining Services is proud to announce the addition of the Purple Fridge, a resource for students with food allergies who want more autonomy in their Maryland Dining experience. Each dining hall has a station labelled “Purple Fridge” – a self-service freezer, microwave and toaster dedicated to storing and preparing meals suitable for students with specific food allergies.
We have also recognized our lead allergen cooks with Purple Chef Coats. On Friday, February 7, Senior Executive Chef John T. Gray presented the trained allergen cooks in each dining hall with a purple chef coat. This is the team that works directly with students who have food allergies. In addition to preparing food, these cooks build relationships with their students and provide comfort and nutrition to them on a daily basis. Allergen cooks awarded Purple Chef Coats: 251 North – Jerome Thomas. South Campus – Dereck Blunt. The Diner – Valencia Tirado, McDuffy Robinson, Shemba Payne, Forris Pittman, Rosa Munoz.
Dining Services has developed a comprehensive, personalized framework to help students manage allergies and food sensitivities while enjoying their Maryland Dining experience. We provide support and education through our nutrition program and other resources.
Every summer, Dining Services sends an introductory card to every new-to-housing student to encourage students with allergies to connect with our nutritionist and Senior Executive Chef. Students who respond are introduced to available resources and meet with the allergen cooks in each dining hall.
After being introduced to the dining program and staff, students can call or email requests for meals to be prepared and ready for pickup. Students can also step into the kitchen and ask us for a meal cooked to order.
Symbols on overhead menu boards and on small counter cards throughout the serving areas indicate what allergens each dish contains. Symbols also identify foods that are vegan, vegetarian, hallal or contain local ingredients.
UMD Nutrislice is a computer and smartphone application that shows students the allergens in each menu item served in the dining halls along with nutritional information and a full list of ingredients. Nutrislice is accessible through our web site dining.umd.edu, online at nutrislice.com or as a phone app (search University of Maryland).
Last year, Dining Services added Epi-Pens to every dining hall (as a backup for the Epi-Pens that people at risk of anaphylactic reaction to food should be carrying at all times). Managers and supervisors in the dining halls have been trained in their use.
The Purple Fridge was inspired by the success of the in-kitchen program, and by student requests for easier access to allergen free foods. Dining Services has created an area in the main serving areas for students to pick up ready-to-eat food without entering the kitchen. The new station is intended to assist students who have spoken with the nutritionist and chef about allergy concerns. Students with food allergies are encouraged to contact Sister Maureen Schrimpe, Maryland Dining Nutritionist.