You work as a server but recently completed a quality assurance internship. Tell us a little bit about what that internship taught you and how it can be applied to food allergies in foodservice.
Becca: One thing that I learned during my internship is how far back the effort to account for food allergies actually goes. FAIs are not something that is simply dealt with by the restaurants themselves but by suppliers and corporate as well. It was really interesting to see how specifications accounted for allergens within the products as well as how suppliers who handle ready-made products control allergens as far back as storing their supplies. All of this can be applied to food service because everyone within the restaurant should be aware that they are continuing this accountability.
The accountability of FAIs does not start in the restaurant, as mentioned in the course, it truly is a team effort starting from the very beginning.
You’re also recent grad from Bluffton Uni in Psychology and Food and Nutrition. Congratulations! ? That’s a really interesting combo, why did you choose it and ideally what are you hoping to do with your education?
Becca: I have always had an interest in Psychology and I actually began as a Psychology and Criminal Justice major, until I made the decision to switch. I have always found Nutrition fascinating and to me the combination of Psych and Nutrition just seemed to fit. There are so many connections that people don’t consider, eating disorders for example. Even fitness and wellness have a large mental aspect to them ranging everywhere from will power to simply being aware of the choices being made. Ideally, I would love to find a profession where I am able to use both of my skill sets. I hope to eventually go back and earn a masters in Industrial Organizational Psychology as well as a masters in Food Science or Nutrition. But financially, that will more than likely be many years down the road.
You completed our Front of House course. What surprised you about it or what did you learn that you didn’t already know?
Becca: One thing that really surprised me about the course was that it included the top 14 FAIs and not just the top 8. As someone who has focused heavily on FAIs in my undergraduate research, the extra 6 FAIs were new information to me. More often than not information regarding FAIs stops after the top 8 so it was a pleasant surprise to see the course cover more than what I was already aware of. ?☺️
Tell us about an experience where the Front of House course helped you improve on an experience for a customer.
Becca: Because of my personal FAI as well as nutrition background, I was already familiar with practicing the majority of the procedures covered throughout the course. However, taking the course was very much a refresher and has allowed me to become more conscious of my actions regarding FAI procedure such as cross-contact prevention. It has allowed me to hold myself and my co-workers more accountable for our actions regarding the handling of food.
Front line workers like you often have to complete training and well, that sometimes goes over very well, thinking that the training is annoying or a waste of time. What would you tell other foodservice staff about how Dine Aware can help them and why it is valuable.
Becca: I think overall, unless someone has a personal connection to an FAI, the severity of the situation and the importance is often lost. I always try to share my own personal experiences in hopes of allowing non-FAI sufferers who work in food service to understand its importance. Dine Aware portrays very well, the importance of taking FAI policy and procedure seriously.
Why do you think it’s important for the industry as a whole to speak food allergy?
Becca: Food allergies are so often ignored because people assume the person is over exaggerating or they are actually on some kind of fad diet. Regardless of the reason someone is mentioning an FAI it is not the workers job to determine how serious they should take it. Every FAI should be treated as if the situation were life or death because for many, it truly is. I also know that their is a stigma surrounding FAI sufferers that because preparing their food takes a little more focus/effort that they are often found to be a burden. Many times I’ve heard people comment, “well if it is really that bad they should not eat out at all”. Food is such a large aspect of our society that it is practically impossible to expect someone to never be in a restaurant. When an FAI guest comes in , they should not have to worry that their experience will be ruined because they are not treated seriously.
We love ❤️ that Dine Aware comes with a side of social impact. Have you witnessed or experienced this awesome effect?
Becca: Any time I serve someone with an FAI I can always tell how grateful they are for receiving the attention that an FAI requires because so often these guests are neglected or ignored. Dine Aware, by spreading awareness and information regarding FAIs, truly affects peoples dining experience because they feel safe and like they are being heard.
Anything else to add? Anything at all.
Becca: I am very grateful for the opportunity to share my opinion and experience regarding Dine Aware and that Dine Aware has taken the initiative to fill the gap of allergen education.
Our training helps hospitality understand the language of food allergy because safe and informed ordering decisions happen when people can communicate.