We take nutrition seriously and strive to provide our students with many options for flavorful and nutritionally balanced meals.
A menu committee, consisting of Housing and Food Services staff members, Registered Dietitians, and our Executive Chefs continually evaluates menu selections for their appearance, taste, nutritional value, and popularity. Nutritional information for many of our menu items is available online at menu.hfs.psu.edu.
Food Allergies and Intolerances
If you’re a Penn State student living with a food allergy or intolerance, you’re not alone. Management staff and the Registered Dietitian’s Office are happy to help guide your choices to keep your meals free of your allergen(s). We have several tools to help:
- Our Registered Dietitian’s office at University Park screens each recipe for the top nine allergens: dairy, wheat/gluten, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, soy, eggs, and sesame.
- Our online menu indicates what allergens are present in each of the dishes that we serve.
- Simply click the red “nutrition” button, and click through the food choices to reveal the allergens.
- You also have the ability to filter the menu choices so that only the items free of your allergen(s) appear on your customized menu.
- Helpful information is displayed in the dining commons at the point of service.
- Each menu item will have an “entree card” which displays the name of the dish, and labels what allergen(s) are present, as well as if a dish is vegetarian, vegan, or contains pork.
- Though our staff is trained in food allergen management, cross contact is possible since the facility prepares foods in shared spaces. If you have questions or concerns, please contact the Registered Dietitian’s Office or Penn State Altoona Housing and Food Services.
Penn State Altoona Dining makes every effort to label food allergens; however, manufacturers may change their product formulation or ingredients without our knowledge. Food allergic guests are encouraged to be their own advocates, and exercise caution at all times. Please notify an employee of your food allergy/intolerance and ask them to change their gloves before preparing your order. At any station, you may request a portion of food from a “backup pan”, a pan of food still in the warmer that has not been out for service yet, that is therefore less likely to have been involved in cross contact. Please also carry your prescribed epinephrine autoinjector at all times.
Our Penn State Bakery items are produced on equipment that also produces foods containing peanuts, tree nuts, sesame, dairy, soy and eggs.
Some products from Penn State’s Berkey Creamery contain peanuts, tree nuts and wheat/gluten.
Vegetarian and Vegan Dining
Our dining facilities offer a variety of meatless and vegan dishes every day, which are denoted using symbols on entree cards, the online menu, or on signage at individual stations. The following criteria are used to determine if a menu item is labeled meatless or vegan:
- Meatless items do not contain meat or meat by-products, but may contain honey, eggs, milk, cheese or other dairy products. These items are denoted by the “M” symbol.
- Vegan items do not contain meat or meat by-products, honey, eggs, or dairy products, but may contain cane sugar. These items are denoted by the “V” symbol.
Registered Dietitian Tips for Building a Healthy Plate
- Build your plate to look like “MyPlate”
- Make half of your plate fruits and vegetables
- One quarter of your plate should be lean protein
- Aim for one quarter of your plate to feature grains, preferably whole grains like whole wheat bread, quinoa, brown rice, etc.
- Start with your vegetables and grains when you build your meal. Then, add your protein as a “side”. Don’t forget the fruit and a good source of calcium! Low fat or fat free milk or yogurt, or high calcium dairy alternatives such as almond milk are great options.
- Go lean with protein! Try beans, lentils, fish, chicken (without the skin), turkey and lean cuts of pork more often than protein sources with more fat like fried meats, beef, and dishes with a lot of gravy or sauces.
- Limit fried foods. Foods cooked in a fryer have more added fat than foods cooked by other methods such as baking, sauteeing, or grilling.