On Feb 1, in an email sent to all Kenyon students, AVI announced that they will no longer be listing allergens on food description signs in Peirce Dining Hall. Students with allergies and food sensitivities will need to consult Kenyon’s NetNutrition website or refer to the monitor outside the servery to determine if meals contain allergens.
According to Bob Zoldak, AVI’s resident dining director, the change was supposed to be implemented last semester, but is being carried out this semester instead because of interruptions in their food supplies.
AVI believes this change will protect the health of students. When the staff was making the food signs before, they would manually copy down the allergen information from the NetNutrition website to the bottom of the menu, which, according to Zoldak, could have resulted in human errors.
“We are actually taking the human component out of the equation to keep the students safer,” Zoldak said. He encourages students with allergies to check the NetNutrition website themselves before dining to ensure their safety.
NetNutrition is a national database that holds thousands of analyzed recipes with comprehensive information about food nutrition, components and allergies.
Zoldak said that the public response to removing allergen information from the signs was mixed. “I talked to a handful of students who didn’t understand why we’re doing it,” Zoldak said. After assuring students that AVI was protecting their health, however, he found that the change was generally well-received.
In the future, Zoldak mentioned that the AVI is planning to develop a more user-friendly system in the early part of next year so that students can access the information through a phone app instead of the website.
According to Zoldak, AVI is a company that values improvement, constantly carrying out new measures to create a safer environment for students under the threat of COVID-19. A lot of other small changes are made to prevent cross-contamination. For example, food containers have been moved behind protective barriers, desserts are individually packaged and beverages are bottled in refrigerators outside the servery.
“As a company, you are either stagnant or you are improving,” Zoldak said. “We choose to improve.”
Students who wish to access the food allergen information can do so on Kenyon’s NetNutrition website.