Food Intolerances vs. Allergies: What Our Dining Hall Staff do to Keep Students Safe

Kim Sillcox
As the mother of a child with potentially life threatening allergies, I understand and appreciate the great lengths our Aramark Dining Hall staff go to in order to keep CDS students and staff safe every day as they prepare food for 900 people.
In the world we live in, the new norm is that many of us have either food intolerances or food allergies. Some are outgrown, others not, and some come about later in life. Food intolerances can cause discomfort and nausea, while food allergies can cause mild to severe allergic reactions, including anaphylaxis which left untreated can be deadly.
While some of the symptoms of food intolerance and food allergies are similar, it’s important to note the differences between the two.

Food Intolerances

Eating a food you are intolerant to can leave you feeling uncomfortable, nauseated and miserable. A food intolerance response takes place in the digestive system. It occurs when you are unable to properly breakdown the food. This could be due to enzyme deficiencies, sensitivity to food additives or reactions to naturally occurring chemicals in foods. Often, people can eat small amounts of the food without experiencing problems.
Food Allergies
An allergic reaction to food is far more severe (even life threatening) and involves the immune system. Your immune system controls how your body defends itself. For instance, if you have an allergy to soy, your immune system identifies soy as an invader or allergen. Your immune system overreacts by producing antibodies called Immunoglobulin E (IgE). These antibodies travel to cells that release chemicals, causing an allergic reaction. Each type of IgE has a specific detection for each type of allergen. Unlike an intolerance to food, a food allergy can cause a serious or even life-threatening reaction by eating a microscopic amount, or sometimes even touching or inhaling the food.

Symptoms of allergic reactions to foods are generally seen on the skin (hives, itchiness, swelling of the skin). Gastrointestinal symptoms may include vomiting and diarrhea. Respiratory symptoms may accompany skin and gastrointestinal symptoms, but don’t usually occur alone. Anaphylaxis is a serious allergic reaction that happens very quickly. Symptoms of anaphylaxis may include difficulty breathing, dizziness or loss of consciousness. Without immediate treatment—an injection of epinephrine (adrenalin) and expert care—anaphylaxis can be fatal.
Please note: CDS students with food allergies are asked to carry an EpiPen with them at all times in the event of a food allergy. There is also one available in the Niczowski, Temovsky, Arrigo Dining Hall to the right just inside the entrance to the kitchen (beside the Purple Window).
Then there are what we call food preferences, which are completely different and are what we used to refer to as being “picky” about what one eats.

In the Niczowski, Temovsky, Arrigo Dining Hall – there is a wide range of nutritional and delicious offerings served up every day by an amazingly friendly and caring group of people. Really, there is something for everyone’s palate and the goal of this wide range of offerings is to encourage our students to try new things and experiment with their food selections, NOT to eat the same thing every day.
Diners have the option of choosing from the main course of the day served at the Country Kitchen main counter, a widely varied Salad Bar and Bowl selection, two Homemade Soups, a Deli counter where they can assemble their own sandwich, pre-made sandwiches, and the Oven option, which ranges from serving up delicious homemade pizzas (including a gluten free option), curry dishes or Ramen noodles on any given day. There is even a daily Smoothie option!
The Purple Window is beside the Country Kitchen and caters to our students and staff who have food intolerances or allergies, as well as those individuals who may be vegetarian or vegan in preference, and would like a variation on the main course.
The goal of our amazing Aramark chefs and staff is to feed our community nutritious and delicious food every day and they do that in spades. They also strive to keep us all safe by paying close attention to those who are either food allergic or intolerant in our midst. We ask that those who don’t fall into this category navigate the plethora of options wisely on their own and not ask for individualized meals as there are so many daily options to choose from.
Just like at home, sometimes we LOVE what we are served, while other times it may not be our favourite. Remember, it’s important to try new things and expand our palates as that is how to best fuel our bodies. As they say, variety is the spice of life!

School Information

13415 Dufferin Street King, Ontario L7B 1K5
(905) 833-1220
Founded in 1972, The Country Day School is a co-educational private school offering programs in JK-12 and located on 100 acres north of Toronto in King.