Food allergies and intolerances are becoming more prevalent in schools and care programs today. Students’ allergic reactions may range from hives and sour stomachs to life-threatening conditions. In addition to offering a special menu that eliminates seven of the most common allergens, CKC Good Food has extensive procedures in place to minimize the potential for scholars to have a reaction when eating one of our meals. All our kitchen managers and staff are trained on these procedures and follow them diligently, whether at our central commissary or any of our satellite kitchens.
CKC Good Food’s “allergen-free” menu was created to offer scholars with food allergies delicious options at mealtimes. This menu is free of the most-common allergens – dairy, gluten, soy, eggs, fish/shellfish, tree nuts and peanuts – and full of flavor. We have offered this menu for several years and are happy to report we’ve been incident-free to-date. If there are other specific allergens outside those listed, CKC Good Food will work with your school’s food service manager to try to provide a suitable meal.
Our allergen-free meal includes:
Each entrée is paired with sides such as cilantro or garlic brown rice, gluten-free tortilla chips, sweet potatoes, steamed or fresh veggies and fruit. This menu is available to order along with your regular lunch order on our client portal. It should be ordered for any student with a food allergy who has a Special Dietary Statement on file, as required by MDE/USDA for the meals to qualify as reimbursable. To keep students safe, food service managers, students and parents are not to determine if a menu item on the regular menu contains an allergen as some allergens may not be obvious without reviewing labels or could be missed when reviewing a label.
Our allergen-free menu intentionally uses minimally processed foods and relatively few ingredients because manufacturers frequently change the ingredients in the foods they sell for use in schools. Neither manufacturers nor the USDA are required to report ingredient/label changes to food distributors, School Food Authorities (SFAs)/schools or food service management companies/caterers. The lack of notification is the single biggest challenge schools have when guaranteeing allergen-free meals do indeed omit risky ingredients. We check labels frequently to identify changes and potential allergens.
You may have concerned parents who request to verify nutrition labels on the foods provided by CKC that you serve. We understand their concern, however, we do not share our proprietary recipes and the accompanying CN/nutrition labels except with MDE as part of a school’s USDA Administrative Review or with schools who request them to confirm menu compliance. The frequent changes to labels would make this a fruitless effort as well.
Some students have dietary restrictions recommended by specialty doctors or dietitians but do not have a Special Diet Statement on file. In Offer vs. Serve schools, students can select foods that conform to their diet to build a reimbursable meal when multiple options are offered. If students want to omit grains from their diet as a preference, for example, they could build a reimbursable meal by choosing at least three of the remaining four components required (required components are meat/meat alternative, milk/dairy, fruit, vegetable and grain).
Lactose-Reduced Milk: Parents of students needing lactose-reduced milk can simply submit a written request to the schools. A Special Diet Statement is not required.
Our allergen-free menu is offered to all our clients, with less than 100 meals being produced daily. The small quantity allows us to tightly monitor preparations and isolate those preparations from sources of contamination.