Catering to your needs

Who says university students don’t eat well?

Getting personal

Personalized meals from a world-class chef may seem like the celebrity treatment, but for some students, it’s just part of their Waterloo experience. Every year, students come to campus with unique dietary restrictions and our Food Services staff take the time to learn their needs and prepare dishes they can enjoy.

We asked Food Services about the lengths they’ve gone to ensure every student has healthy food options. They told us about Derek.*

Students ordering food in cafeteria.

Meet Derek

A few years ago, we received this summary of a student’s dietary restrictions from his parents:

“Currently reacts to all forms of nuts, eggs or runny egg products, gluten, wheat, fish, sesame seeds, mustard seeds, dairy and flavoring such as monosodium glutamate. Of these, reacts to nuts and runny egg products even if the allergens are airborne alone. In order to trigger a reaction with the other groups, he must ingest them. He is very conscious of what he eats, and rarely/never eats something that he’s are unsure of. He also carries an EpiPen. We do not use microwave oven to heat or prepare his foods; a regular oven/stove or a convection toaster oven works well as long as there is no cross contamination.”

The challenge was issued and we had some work to do. We set up a meeting with his parents –including Executive Chef and Health Services dietitian – over the summer and also emailed regularly. His parents sent us menus and recipes; they were so supportive of us. Thanks to their co-operation and help, we were able to come up with the following arrangements to ensure the student was well taken care of.

  • We designated one area of the kitchen to be used to prepare the student’s food.
  • We went out and bought a set of pots, pans, utensils, storage containers, and a small oven only for this use.
  • We dedicated one fridge for storage and ensured it was well-marked, inside and out.
  • Because of the airborne peanut allergens, we stopped baking peanut butter cookies during the day.
  • The cooks spoke with the student regularly and always kept log of what he was given for meals and the time he came in for meals.
  • Because of specialty items our team often went to grocery store for supplies and to provide as much variety as possible.

Plating food in a cafeteria.

Service with a smile

Now is that service, or what? Waterloo’s Food Services, Housing, and Health Services staff are dedicated to ensuring that you have the best campus experience possible. There’s no accommodation too big that they can’t help find you help. At the end of the day, everyone here wants you to succeed and we all do our part to make it possible.  


*Names have been changed to protect the student’s identity.