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Policy for Meal Accommodations

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If a student meets the requirements for a medically restricted diet described here, the student is able to receive a meal accommodation. A meal accommodation can take many forms. A meal accommodation can involve a student asking the managerial staff prior to a meal for a specific option cooked to order without cross-contamination; a student being made aware of the options in the dining halls that meet their medical needs; a student receiving a brown bag lunch for a BC-sponsored event; or a preset menu. Above is an example of a pre-set menu for two dinner meals for a student with celiac disease. The student will work with the Administrative Dietitian to determine what meal accommodation fits their medical need. The dietitian also ensures the student is receiving a variety of foods that constitute a nutritionally adequate diet.

BC Dining is committed to helping Boston College students with their medical nutritional needs when dining on campus. The management and culinary staff of BC Dining strive to accommodate the needs of students who have food allergies, celiac disease, or any other medical condition that requires a modified diet. 

This protocol describes the process for the University’s accommodation of a medically restrictive diet. The process for initiating these accommodations is the responsibility of the student and is an interactive collaboration between the student and Dining Services. First, students seeking dietary accommodations should register with the Disabilities Services Office and provide the appropriate documentation described in this protocol. The Assistant Dean for Students with Disabilities will refer any students seeking meal plan or dining facility accommodations to the Administrative Dietitian. The Administrative Dietitian serves as the point of contact in Dining Services for students seeking accommodations or who have questions or concerns regarding nutrition or dietary needs. The protocol outlines the responsibilities of both the University and the student and provides additional information regarding common food allergies.

In Campus Dining Halls

The student is responsible for initiating the request for accommodations for a medically restricted diet by both registering with the Office of Disabilities Services and arranging an appointment with the Administrative Dietitian, who can provide the resources and information needed to make healthy and safe food choices in the dining halls, and address requests for accommodations. Appointments with the Administrative Dietitian are made by calling 617-552-3307. Students are encouraged to begin this process before arriving on campus for the semester by making a phone appointment or as soon as a new diagnosis is made during the school year. The manager-on-duty in any dining hall can assist the student in arranging appropriate meals pending an appointment with the Administrative Dietitian.

At Catered Events

Guests are requested to notify the contact person for their campus event regarding any special dietary needs at the same time the guest registers or accepts an invitation for an event and no less than three days in advance. The Event Management staff can consult with the guest, the event contact person, and the Administrative Dietitian as necessary to arrange any accommodations for a medically restricted diet if adequate advance notice is given.

Appropriate disability documentation must be provided by the student when registering with the Disability Services Office to help assess the student’s needs for reasonable accommodations for a medically restricted diet. Documentation will be treated as a confidential and reviewed only by appropriate administrators, including the Administrative Dietitian. If the Administrative Dietitian needs to contact the healthcare provider for further clarification on documentation, the student will be asked to supply written consent.

Documentation of the need for a medically restricted diet for a diagnosed condition must include the following:

  • A letter from a licensed primary healthcare provider or specialty physician with relevant experience in treating the diagnosed condition and who has examined the student within the last year. The letter must outline the medical condition; supporting medical history, physical exam, and diagnostic test results; and prescribed nutrition treatment. 
  • Letters written by healthcare providers who are related to the student will not be accepted.
  • Physical exam criteria and diagnostic test results to support the diagnosis of a food allergy include those recommended in the National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (“NIAID”) Guidelines for the Diagnosis and Management of Food Allergy in the United StatesNonstandardized and unproven procedures not accepted by NIAID will not be accepted as adequate documentation of a food allergy diagnosis. Unacceptable procedures or tests include, but are not limited to: cytotoxicity assays, mediator release assay, allergen specific IgG4, provocation neutralization, and electrodermal testing. Such tests are associated with a lack of evidence demonstrating validity and/or reliability in diagnosis of a food allergy, delay of appropriate therapy, or unnecessary dietary restrictions that could lead to nutritional deficiencies because of false positive results, and false negative results that could lead to dangerous consumption of an allergen.
  • Self-diagnosis, parental diagnosis, or diagnosis by a non-licensed provider of food allergies, food intolerance, or nonceliac gluten intolerance without medical corroboration as described above will not be accepted as valid documentation. Self-diagnosis of food allergies, gluten intolerance or food intolerance can lead to misdiagnosis and possible delay of treatment for another disorder as well as unnecessary dietary restriction that can compromise nutritional health.

It is the responsibility of Dining Services to:

  • Actively engage with students in a collaborative process to establish a plan for safely meeting a student’s needs for a medically restrictive diet in the form of reasonable accommodations. Steps to begin this collaborative process are initiated by the student registering with the Disability Services Office as outlined in this protocol under the headings ‘Arranging accommodations for a medically restricted diet’ and ‘Student Responsibility.’
  • Introduce any student actively engaged in this process to key culinary staff who will assist the student in the day-to-day management of the medically restricted diet. These students will be apprised of Dining Services’ staff culinary process for handling special dietary requests, communications strategies, arrangements for special meal orders, and procurement of special dietary products as available. Designate specific staff to answer customer questions regarding medically restricted diets or food ingredients. At Boston College, the manager of the dining hall or the Administrative Dietitian may answer these questions. Servers and other culinary staff are directed to refer any dietary questions to the manager-on-duty.
  • Provide appropriate signage as mandated by the State of Massachusetts that advises customers to self-identify their food allergies at the point-of-service to the server. The server will refer questions to the manager-on-duty per this protocol.
  • Train appropriate staff in allergy awareness as mandated by the State of Massachusetts.

Student Responsibility

It is the responsibility of the student to:
  • It is the responsibility of the student to:
  • Initiate the request for accommodations for a medically restricted diet by registering with the Disability Services Office and then scheduling and attending an appointment with the Administrative Dietitian as outlined in this protocol under the heading ‘Arranging accommodations for a medically restricted diet.’
  • Provide appropriate documentation regarding medically restricted diets when requested.
  • Be knowledgeable and proficient in the management of their medical nutrition needs. The Administrative Dietitian is available to provide nutrition education to students who have newly diagnosed conditions with prescribed dietary treatment. Proficiency includes the following, with additional specifics presented for those with food allergies:
    • Avoidance of foods to which the student is allergic, intolerant, or are otherwise unsafe for the condition.
    • Recognition of symptoms of dietary nonadherence or, in the case of a food allergy, an allergic reaction. 
    • Knowledge of how and when to tell someone that the student may be having an allergy-related problem, including how to access emergency services. 
    • Knowledge of proper use of medications to treat a food allergy, if appropriate. 
    • Carrying epinephrine in the form of an EpiPen if prescribed for treatment of an allergic reaction.
    • Considering providing education to the student's Resident Assistant, roommates, and friends about a food allergy, including how to seek help for an allergic reaction and any information on medications used to treat an allergic reaction.               
  • Read the menus and ingredient information that is made available.
  • When in the dining hall, direct specific questions about ingredients or dietary needs to the manager only.
  • Avoid areas/foods known to be high risk for cross-contact if food allergies or gluten intolerance has been diagnosed. Examples including self-serve and made-to-order menu items, fried food, and items prepared in the campus bakery. Packaged bakery items are available and students may use their judgment in deciding whether to consume these items after reviewing the label.
  • Maintain communication with the Administrative Dietitian or dining hall manager to keep Dining Services apprised of the student’s needs so that modifications or adjustments can be made as needed.
  • Customers are encouraged to review the on-line nutritional analysis program to review ingredients in featured menu items. Visit the 'Dining with Food Allergies' page for information on the program. 
  • The Plain & Simple serving line in McElroy, Corcoran, and Stuart dining halls serves entrees, starches, and vegetables during dinner that are made without gluten.
  • Eagle’s Nest deli has gluten-free bread and an appropriate food preparation area to avoid cross-contact to offer sandwiches made without gluten to customers during lunch.
  • Hillside Café has a daily sandwich special made without gluten.
  • Grab’n’Go refrigerators in the dining hall offer a gluten-friendly sandwich option. Additionally, pre-packaged assorted entrees and salads, yogurt parfaits, hummus, and snacks are featured and contain ingredient labels for customer review.
  • Most salad dressings on the condiment bar are made without gluten. Dressings contain complete ingredient listing for customer review.
  • A variety of packaged gluten-friendly baked goods, pasta items, cereals, and entrees are available in McElroy, Corcoran, and Stuart dining halls by request. Dining Services strives to have all designated gluten-friendly products available at all times, but availability may be affected by high demand or vendor issues.
  • Many items routinely featured on the menu are made without gluten, but care must be taken to note that made-to-order and self-serve items in particular are at high risk of cross-contact. Arrangements can be made to have food prepared in accordance with safe food-handling practices to avoid cross-contact.
  • Culinary staff can alter many featured menu items to eliminate gluten when provided with advance notice. For example, a sauce or bread topping can be left off of a poultry or fish dish.
  • Dedicated toaster ovens are kept in McElroy, Corcoran, and Stuart dining halls for use only by those following a gluten restriction. 
  • Customers are encouraged to review the on-line nutritional analysis program to review ingredients in featured menu items. Visit the 'Dining with Food Allergies' page for information on the program. 
  • The Plain & Simple serving line in McElroy, Corcoran, and Stuart dining halls serves dinner entrees, starches, and vegetables each evening that contain no milk, egg, wheat, soy, fish, shellfish, tree nuts or peanuts, and are made without gluten.
  • Salad dressings on the condiment bar contain complete ingredient listing for customer review.
  • Grab n’ Go refrigerators in the dining hall offer a variety of sandwich options and assorted salads, yogurt parfaits, hummus, and snacks that contain full ingredient listings for customer review.
  • Students who have met with the Administrative Dietitian will learn how to set up the following types of accommodations:
    • Inclusion in the culinary staff's daily process for handling food allergy special requests, which includes required communication to staff to assure special requests are made in a timely manner. 
    • Specific meal arrangements to assure safe food handling practices are followed to avoid cross-contact. Many items routinely featured on the menu are free of food allergen ingredients, but care must be taken to note that made-to-order and self-serve items in particular are at high risk of cross-contact during preparation. 

Please Be Aware: Boston College is not an allergen-free campus

Although Boston College does its best to provide for the needs of students with food allergies or gluten-restricted diets, the University is not an allergen-free or gluten-free environment. Our staff have been trained in the handling and preparation of food in accordance with safe food practices to reduce the risk of cross-contact. Every attempt is made to provide accurate ingredient information to our customers through our online nutritional analysis software so that allergen-containing ingredients can be identified by the customer. However, there is always the risk of cross-contact, especially if a customer does not self-identify their food allergy at the point-of-service and as a result the menu items consumed were not prepared separately from the general menu offerings. Additionally, there is always the possibility of manufacturer or vendor substitutions in ingredients or change in specifications of a formulation. The terms ‘made without gluten’ and ‘gluten-friendly’ are used in place of ‘gluten-free’ for these reasons.

Residential Campus

Students with medically restricted diets who may need accommodations involving on-campus housing should contact the Disability Services Office who will assist the student in contacting the appropriate administrators in Residential Life. Students should communicate any concerns about the Mandatory Meal Plan with the Administrative Dietitian prior to entering into a residency agreement. The Mandatory Meal Plan will not be waived by Dining Services in full or in part for reasons of financial hardship (instead please discuss financial hardship with the Office of Student Services); class, sport, travel, employment, or volunteer schedule; personal diet preferences; use of commercial nutrition products, such as packaged food sold by commercial weight loss programs; religious reasons; vegetarian/vegan or organic diet. Students are encouraged to communicate with the Administrative Dietitian to learn what available options exist regarding their dietary needs under these aforementioned circumstances. Students who wish not to participate in the Mandatory Meal Plan will need to explore the possibility of housing options on campus that do not require the Mandatory Meal Plan in the Conditions of Residency. A housing arrangement with a full kitchen cannot be guaranteed unless it is medically substantiated and approved by Residential Life in accordance with the established appeal process.

Grievances

Students with medically restricted diets who have actively engaged in the collaborative process outlined in this protocol and yet feel, despite the good faith efforts of Dining Services, that reasonable accommodations were not achieved are encouraged to work directly with the Administrative Dietitian to facilitate a solution. Students who wish to initiate a complaint about the University’s response to a request for reasonable dining accommodations may do so under the Grievance Policy for Students with Disabilities.