Food Allergies & Dietary Accommodations

If you are going to be providing food at your event, it is important to consider all of the different dietary needs that people attending may have. Here are some things to think about when planning your event menu.

Long-Range Planning

  1. Where will the event be held? (On/off campus?)

  2. Will the event hosts be serving food/beverages?

  3. Who will be supplying the food/beverages for the event?

    • Do/can they provide options free of common allergies?*

    • Do/can they post ingredients for all food/beverage choices?

    • Do/can they post common allergens for all food/beverage choices? 

  4. If no to any in #3:

    • Did you inquire as to the possibility of the vendor providing these requirements?

  5. If the event is catered, did the caterer verify that they would be able to provide allergen-free food choices for the event?

    • If no, is there another food/beverage vendr or caterer you can choose who will meet those requirements?

  6. If necessary, can the event be (overall) free of items containing the common allergens?


  1. Will it cost more to have an event safe for individuals with food allergies? If yes, how much more?

  2. If attendees are purchasing their own food/beverages:

    • Can the purchase allerge-free meals?

    • How will they know they can purchase allergen-free meals?

    • How will the know whom to contact?


  1. How are the attendees notified regarding whom to contact in the event of disability accommodations and food/beverage allergies? Consider using Northwestern's recommended accessible events statement throughout the advertising process.

  2. If you do not use the recommended accessible events statement:

    • Is the process for requesting available accommodations clearly hghlighted on flyers. posters, emails, websites, announcements, all materials, etc.?

    • Is the contact information accurate and current and is the contact person aware of their role?

    • Is the process streamlined, (relatively) simple, and can it be accessed via multiple modes of communication (email, phone, online form, etc.)?

    • If an online form is used, is it accessible (Google Docs are NOT accessible for students who use screen readers)?

  3. If not the contact person, who will be responsible for responding to requests for accommodations and food/beverage allergies?


  1. Will food/beverage choices be located near or away from other foods with allergens?

  2. Will there be someone knowledgeable regarding allergic reactions attending the event?

    • If yes, have they been trained to address allergic reactions?

    • If yes, do they know how to use an EpiPen or AUVI-Q?

  3. Will it be possible to accommodate last minute requests for allergen-free food/beverages?

    • If yes, how much time will be needed?

*Common food allergens: eggs, fish, milk, nuts from trees (including hazelnuts, walnuts, almonds, and Brazil nuts), peanuts (groundnuts), shellfish (including shrimp, mussels, and crab), soy, wheat/(gluten). Nut oils and sesame seeds/oils are also commonly problematic for students with nut allergies.

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