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Peanut Politics: Nut-aware vs. Nut-free

Greenhill has long made an effort to accommodate for and protect students with nut allergies. No school lunches or school-provided snacks contain or are made next to any nut products. However, the Greenhill campus is not completely nut-free.

Greenhill is “nut aware” rather than “nut free,” primarily due to The Buzz and the products they offer. The Buzz offers products that contain nuts, and the administration creates the policies concerning nut products being sold at The Buzz. Since The Buzz switched to healthier options in 2015, many of the new companies the store started buying from sold products that contained nuts.

“If we [were nut free], we wouldn’t be selling much of anything at The Buzz,” said Campus Store and Purchasing manager Mrs. Sharon Brewer.

SAGE Dining took over Greenhill’s cafeteria services 12 years ago, catering to roughly 1,600 students and staff members every day. Avoiding student allergy attacks falls under their responsibility as a school dining service. According to SAGE’s head chef at Greenhill, Richard Morotto, SAGE avoids using common   nuts in the foods they make.

“People’s lives are in our hands and we have to take that very, very seriously,” said Chef Morotto.

SAGE is a nut free organization. Chef Morotto said they don’t even cook with coconuts, even though it’s not classified as a nut, for safety reasons.
Greenhill is a ‘nut aware’ campus, so people with certain allergens can eat snacks and lunches without any worries, according to Chef Morotto.

As a safety measure, The Buzz does not allow students in Lower School to make purchases unless a parent accompanies them.

Chef Morotto has trained his cafeteria staff well enough to ask questions to superior staff members, and to know alternatives to prevent allergy attacks

“We always have a series of safeguards in place to make sure nobody says ‘oh yeah you can have it’ because that’s the one time somebody’s going to get sick,” said Chef Morotto.

The whole SAGE cooking staff works to make sure that everyone has an option for lunch, whether it’s from the hot food lines or the cold salad bar and deli offered with every lunch.

Chef Morotto said the menu for lunch at Greenhill is created specifically for Greenhill. This varies from each campus that uses SAGE as their meal providers.
Some ways to help navigate through dietary restrictions is through the “Touch of Sage” app that provides information on the ingredients of each food item. Through this app, each student can customize their own profile, which includes dietary information that will filter through the day’s menu items, and inform what foods contain that ingredient.

“I think that Greenhill does a great job of knowing their boundaries when it comes to students who are allergic and I feel really safe here,” said freshman Sydney Horowitz, who is allergic to peanuts.

Story by Natalie Gonchar

Originally published in the November 2017 print issue

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