This student is a vegetarian, that student is lactose intolerant, this student has a peanut allergy, that student keeps kosher—does it ever feel as if accommodating special diets in the cafeteria gets to be a lot to understand and plan for?

The reality is that a big part of our jobs in the school foodservice industry is not merely accommodating but (more importantly) embracing these special diets so that all students can be nourished and ready for the school day, whether they have special dietary needs for medical, religious or lifestyle reasons. Understanding and planning takes some special knowledge, however, and we have the information you need. You’ll find all this valuable insight in our May/June issue highlighting these topics:

  • Put Your Heart in It: Preparing school lunches comes with a generous portion of challenges every day, which is why it can sometimes feel so stressful to have to consider dietary restrictions or any kind of special requests on top of everything else you’re dealing with. But with the right attitude and mindset—putting the focus on the students—the challenge becomes much easier to overcome. These school nutrition professionals explain how they manage to make it work, one kid at a time.
  • Ensuring Dietary Inclusivity: When religious observations mean special dietary needs, accommodating those restrictions becomes a matter of inclusivity. Whether they’re a Jewish student who keeps kosher or a Muslim student who eats halal, these students are counting on you to make the cafeteria a welcoming place where all students can feel comfortable and supported.
  • Let’s Talk Plant Power: Building a diet or meal plan around plants doesn’t have to mean keeping strictly vegetarian or vegan—and there are plenty of reasons to consider a plant-forward diet, from discovering new foods to building a more environmentally friendly menu. Chef Vahista Ussery, MS, MBA, RDN, explains what it means to eat plant-forward and how to make these options appealing and exciting for your students.
  • From A to Z: Discussing dietary restrictions comes with its fair share of specific lingo. What’s the difference between a vegetarian and a vegan? Is a wheat allergy the same as celiac disease? (Spoiler alert: it’s not.) This guide gives you all the definitions you need to know when it comes to medical, lifestyle and religious restrictions on food.
  • ANC Preview: It’s hard to believe #ANC24 is almost here, and this year’s Annual National Conference will encourage you and your industry peers to “Shape Tomorrow Together.” Get a full preview of this year’s conference, including an explanation of the theme, a lineup of events and tips for navigating the Exhibit Hall with its 900 booths.
  • Food Focus: Eat Your Greens: It’s easy eating green when there are so many options—spinach, chard, kale—the list goes on and on! Here’s why leafy greens are considered a nutritional powerhouse, along with all the ways you can consider serving them, whether your students prefer them raw or cooked.

Click here to read SN’s March/April 2024 issue to discover all of those articles, and more!

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