Student’s Guide to Dining at Macalester College
Macalester College recognizes that mealtimes are a cornerstone of campus life, providing a vital opportunity to connect, converse, re-energize, and enjoy good food. Our onsite culinary team prepares a diverse selection of menu items from scratch using the freshest, highest quality ingredients available seasonally and regionally. As a result, we do not operate from corporate recipes and in fact, ingredients and products change frequently.
When dining on campus, keep in mind our cafes operate in open kitchen environments which means the top eight most common allergens (milk, eggs, fish, shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat, and soy) are present. Cross-contact occurs when a food comes into contact with another food and their proteins mix, creating the potential for an allergic reaction. With a large portion of the campus dining landscape designed as self-serve, cross-contact is possible.
Our staff are well trained in dry wiping and cleaning equipment and preparation areas to prevent cross-contact, however, airborne particles (such as flour) are a challenge to contain in open kitchen environments. To avoid cross-contact, you should pick stations that best fit what you can eat. It is best to avoid riskier choices with high opportunities for accidental exposure.
Our goal is to help students safely navigate the campus food landscape and make informed choices in dining locations. We recognize that students with food allergies may already experience a more limited diet and are required to exert more time and effort in managing their diets than others.
We take into account each individual student’s personal dietary needs and make every effort to provide helpful information to students with food allergies. Our goal is to provide students with the tools they need to actively manage a food allergy or food-related medical conditions. Our dining locations aim to provide a safe and supportive environment throughout their college experience.
Preparing to Dine on Campus
Eating away from home most often requires you do some homework. Preparing to eat on a college campus is no different, and we’re here to help. The team you interact with on campus goes beyond the dining team, and includes Disability Services, the Health and Wellness Center, and/or Residential Life in most cases.
Contact information for Macalester College Disability Services
Robin D. Hart Ruthenbeck, Ed.D.
Assistant Dean of Students
Macalester College Disability Services
1600 Grand Avenue St. Paul, MN 55105
Contact information for Macalester College Dining Services
Our onsite culinary team of well-trained chefs and managers take great care in providing the necessary information to students with food allergies or intolerances.
Your Resources: Our Commitment to Helping You
The following services are available to help you safely manage your food allergies.
- Dining services works individually with students to develop a plan to navigate the campus dining landscape. Dining services will coordinate with Disability Service and students when appropriate.
- A café environment that supports open communication with guests and encourages students with food allergies to speak with a manager or chef.
- Mini-posters, station allergen clings and generic allergen station cards are posted throughout the cafe to raise awareness about allergens and promote dialogue between student and on site culinary team.
- Clear menu signage with descriptively labeled menu items that call-out Major 8 Food Allergens.
- Look for labels such as “chicken peanut pad thai” or “green beans with almonds”
- Available online are menu descriptions such as
Plate Name: Spicy Pork and Cashew Stir-Fry with Red Peppers and Snow Peas
Description: spicy pork stir-fry (marinated in soy sauce) with cashews, red
peppers, and snow peas served over brown rice
Plate Name: Seitan Stroganoff
Description: seitan, a wheat protein, sauteed with sherry and soy
- For our guests with celiac disease or other gluten intolerances, we offer “made without gluten-containing ingredient” options. To identify these options, look for items labeled with this icon.
- Culinary Committee meetings that are hosted every semester by Dining Services and available for students to openly share and discuss their needs and concerns.
- Friendly, front-of-house hourly staff who will courteously and quickly direct students to the manager on duty or chef with any questions about ingredients or food allergies.
- Managers and/or chefs available during all meal periods to respond to student questions.
- Managers and chefs who are annually trained on food allergies and celiac disease. In addition, can provide access to manufacturer-provided ingredient lists with allergen and nutrition information when available.
- Hourly employees who are trained in food allergen awareness and discuss allergen topics during weekly staff meetings.
- Hourly staff who are aware of and concerned about food allergens, and who understand the cleaning, dry wiping and sanitation, and other preparation steps that will minimize the risk of cross-contact between foods.
- At made-to-order stations, students can request dining staff to change gloves, use fresh utensils and cleaned pans to reduce cross-contact concerns.
At Macalester College, if you have food allergy concerns, please ask a cashier to guide you to the manager on duty or Chef. Also, we highly encourage students to schedule a meeting with our team prior to or soon after arriving on campus. This time is helpful in identifying and developing a plan to meet your individual needs.
Student Responsibilities: Personal Management of Food Allergies
Students play a role in managing their food allergies and dietary needs. Consider the following steps when planning for dining on campus.
- Notify Disability Services and follow the steps to develop a plan.
- Participate in scheduled Culinary Committee meetings hosted by Dining Services.
- Be proficient in self-management of food allergies by:
- Being alert and taking caution by avoiding foods you are allergic to.
- Being knowledgeable about the common food sources of your allergen(s).
- Familiarizing yourself with the descriptive menu nomenclature approach to allergen labeling used within cafés and online.
- Getting informed and reading the daily menus and ingredient info.
- Being cautious and/or avoiding self-serve stations.
- Becoming proactive and asking employees to change gloves and use fresh utensils and cleaned equipment at made-to-order stations.
- Building relationships and getting to know the on-site culinary team.
- Asking questions and communicating concerns.
- Developing self-awareness and recognizing the symptoms of allergic reaction.
- Being prepared and carrying emergency contact information.
- If prescribed, carry any medications and know how to use an epinephrine auto-injector in an event of an allergic reaction.
- If you feel comfortable, tell those you eat with most frequently about your food allergies and the ways they could help if you are in distress.
Navigating Macalester College Cafes
Here are some important-to-know facts about the Macalester dining halls.
Dairy: Located in a separate cooler case, soy, and almond milks are available.
Tree-nuts and Peanuts: We do not prepare any entrees at Cafe Mac with nuts. Scotties, Nessie’s, The Atrium and coffee carts at the Janet Wallace Fine Arts building feature packaged foods made without nuts. In addition, we do not serve nut butters in open containers.
Wheat: Made without gluten-containing ingredient options are available at designated stations each day, in addition to the options that may be found throughout the Cafe.
Fish and Shellfish: Fish and shellfish will be identified on entrees when plated as a primary ingredient. Read our descriptively labeled menu items to familiarize yourself with the ingredients of an entrée. Occasionally, fish and shellfish are present in our entrees as sub-ingredients (i.e. Worcestershire sauce, fish sauce).
Eggs and Soy: Keep an eye on the descriptively labeled menu items. Often, eggs and soy are sub-ingredients (i.e. egg custard filling, soy sauce) in entrées.
Additionally, located at stations, chefs will display bottles and packages from unfamiliar ingredients, which are available for you to read.
Remember, our on-site manager and chefs are always available to address your individual questions. Please don’t hesitate to reach out and request to talk with them.
For more information about food allergies visit: