Special Dietary Needs

A special diet is one that cannot be selected freely from the main choices available. This could be due to an allergy, intolerance or other medical need; or because children are following a religious or cultural diet; or a vegetarian or vegan diet.


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Halal food refers to foods that adhere to Islamic law. Calvin Dining Services offers Halal foods, which can be easily distinguished by the Halal symbol, seen above. Although Calvin Dining Services does offer some Halal-certified Foods, we are not a Halal-certified facility. This means that while we follow guidelines to avoid cross contact, our Halal-certified foods are prepared in the same kitchen that foods that may be considered haram are prepared in.

If you are observing Ramadan during the current 2023 school year, please fill out this form for meal requests.


Food allergy is an immune system reaction that occurs soon after eating a certain food. Even a tiny amount of the allergy-causing food can trigger reactions including tingling or itching in the mouth, hives, itching or eczema, swelling of the lips, face, tongue and throat or other parts of the body. Severe reaction can cause Anaphylaxis including constriction and tightening of the airways, a swollen throat or the sensation of a lump in your throat that makes it difficult to breathe. Additional symptoms include shock with a severe drop in blood pressure, rapid pulse, dizziness, lightheadedness or loss of consciousness.


Food intolerance, also known as non-IgE mediated food hypersensitivity or non-allergic food hypersensitivity, refers to difficulty in digesting certain foods. It is important to note that food intolerance is different from food allergy. Food allergies trigger the immune system, while food intolerance does not.

Vegan / Vegetarian (Dietary Preference)

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(Look for these symbols to see if an item is vegan, indicated by two leaves, or vegetarian, indicated by one leaf)

People's dietary choices are often affected by a variety of factors, including ethical and religious beliefs. Calvin Dining Service will work to accommodate dietary preferences utilizing current resources, but may not be able to accommodate all requests.


Our campus has a wide range of special dietary needs, this includes alternative diets. OPTIoNS provides our diners with specific allergies, intolerances or sensitivities with a delicious alternative to some of their favorite foods, which NOW includes breakfast! This cooler is location near the Zone at Knollcrest. Click here to learn more about OPTIoNS and OPTIoNS breakfast.

The Zone

The Zone is an allergen sensitive station located in Knollcrest Dining Hall, that focuses on providing nutritious and quality food for those who have one or more allergies to the top 9 allergens. The Zone provides a safe space to help control cross contact while enabling students to have a varied and delicious menu of options for their meal. Our staff is educated in safe allergen protocols, and our menu features scratch-based cooking, including sauces and condiments. We choose dishes based on the needs and wants of our students. All dishes are gluten and dairy free, and staples at The Zone include at daily rotation of proteins and vegetables like beef kabobs, grilled chicken, baked beans, polenta, and rice pilaf.

Nine food items account for almost 90 percent of food allergic reactions: milk, eggs, nuts, tree nuts, fish, sesame, shellfish, soy and wheat.

We work hard to identify all dishes that are prepared with these select items and in addition we advise diners with allergies to do following:

  • Pay attention to entrée name. Dishes made with common allergens often have that allergen mentioned in the entrée name.
  • Establish a relationship with the chef. Simple conversations with the chef in your daily visit to the dining halls can make your dining experience a lot easier. The chef can go over ingredients used in recipes and how the meal was prepared.
  • Read labels! We include allergy icons made by Creative Dining Services for each allergen) on all of our menus. Our chefs will be happy to tour the kitchen with you so you may view labels of the foods you will be eating.
  • When in doubt...  Ask! Our staff would love to help and if we don't know the answer, we will do our best to find it.  But if you are ever unsure about an entrée, we recommend you avoid consuming it.

Dining Halls

  • All areas that contain nut products will have signs clearly displayed.
  • Food on the hot lines will be nut-sensitive unless otherwise indicated by clearly displayed signs and servers on the lines will be informed ahead of time if a food product will contain any nut products and will make this information clear. Nut sensitive areas will be washed separately from areas that may contain nut products.
  • If there is ever any question or concern about any of the food products being served, students are highly encouraged to talk to a supervisor at the dining location.
Note: All retail locations on campus are considered areas that contain nuts. Students with nut allergies should use caution in these locations.

If it is a severe reaction:

  • Have the dining service manager or a staff member Call x3-3333 or 526-3333 to page campus safety immediately.
  • Have the manager or staff member explain the problems.
  • Tell them where you are located, i.e. building/specific location.
  • Administer an Epi-Pen or take medication as prescribed.

If it is not a severe reaction:

  • Take medication as prescribed.
  • If you feel that medical attention would be beneficial, call for non-emergency help at 3-3333 or 526-3333.

In either case:

Please follow up with the dining services manager where you ate the food item that produced the reaction by telling them what happened. This is important so that the specific reason for the inadvertent exposure can be identified and corrective action can be taken as needed to prevent future exposures.

Who to contact if you have a food allergy or special dietary accommodation:

If you have a special dietary need including food allergies or sensitivities, please contact Food Service Director, Todd Kurtz at 616-526-7189 or todd.kurtz@calvin.edu.


Although we strive to make the information as accurate as possible, deviation(s) from recipe(s), product substitution(s) or changes to portion size can happen during our meal preparation process. Our utmost mission is to serve you in the best ways possible in a healthy and safe dining environment.