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MSU honored with national food allergy innovation award

Posted at 1:06 PM, May 12, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-12 13:06:55-04

EAST LANSING, Mich. — Michigan State University is being recognized for its efforts in allergen-free food options for students.

Earlier this month, MSU was the recipient of the 2020 Best Allergy Innovation Award from AllerTrain.

“Our team has shown great passion for ensuring those dining on campus not only have a safe experience, but are well-nourished when they Eat at State,” shared Rebecca Selesky, executive director of MSU Culinary Services. “We strive to set the industry standard and continue innovating with developments like our certified allergen-free dining hall, unique options for concessions venues and more. Amid the current COVID-19 response, we are pleased to share the good news and acknowledge this significant honor.”

Last year, MSU transformed a retail cash operation into the certified allergen-free dining hall, Thrive, located near central campus in Owen Hall.

The university said the project came after more and more students voiced their allergen challenges.

“We take a great deal of pride in serving all our guests, including those with allergens and dietary restrictions,” explained Gina Keilen, registered dietitian and administrative business manager. “The development of Thrive really showcases how dedicated our team is to providing quality service and giving those with allergens a dining experience some never thought was possible, especially at a collegiate level.”

MSU said Thrive is free from the big eight allergens, eggs, fish, milk, peanuts, shellfish, soy, tree nuts and wheat, in addition to gluten.

MSU said as the number of students reporting food allergies continued to rise nearly 175% each year, the university placed emphasis on expanding the food allergy program, with Thrive serving as a key element to success.

“As an individual with severe food allergies, I think the accommodations at MSU have been outstanding,” expressed Marissa Burk, a business-admitted junior. “Prior to coming to MSU, I never had the opportunity to eat at a place like Thrive. At all the dining halls, especially Thrive, I’ve enjoyed a fantastic variety of foods and felt completely safe at all times. Every employee is knowledgeable about food preparation and seems happy to help answer my questions.”

Three main venues within Thrive offer various options including grain bowls, tacos, breakfast favorites, tandoori chicken, smoked brisket, eggplant parmesan and chicken tenders and fries.

For more information on MSU's dining options, click here.

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