Supporting students in making healthy and appropriate nutritional choices is one of the many ways the Division of Student Life supports student success. In June 2015 Laura Croteau, RD, LD, joined University Housing & Dining as a nutrition specialist. She brings new ideas around wellness and nutrition, a thoughtful attitude, and a passion for supporting students.
Laura’s primary responsibility is to support students with food allergies and special diets. From peanut allergies to gluten free options, Laura ensures students have access to the food they need and can easily identify food that’s right for them. She is responsible for labeling all the food in the dining facilities with allergy and preference labels and is overseeing the creation of NetNutrition, an online resource for students that will provide nutrition information for all items in the dining facilities.
“Students can miss class or co-curricular activities due to their food allergy, so it’s essential to have clear options for them,” said Croteau.
During this past year Laura also spearheaded food allergy training for staff members. She applied for and received funding from the Food Allergy Research & Education organization to become a certified master trainer through AllerTrain. She can now train other staff on food allergies, and they can earn their own certificates.
“This training is important because we want our students to feel confident that they can ask and get an answer from our staff members about food allergies, and we want staff members to feel confident in answering these questions,” said Croteau.
As a part of her position Laura also looks to identify and resolve gaps in support for students. For example, she worked to provide gluten free fridges in Hillcrest and Burge for students. In the coming year she wants to improve support for students with celiac disease and provide more allergy friendly options in retail locations.
Laura enjoys working with students and is working hard to continue to raise students’ awareness of the services she provides. She wants students (and anyone else who utilizes the dining facilities) with food allergies or special diets to know she is here to assist them. She also provides healthy eating tips to all students and can help them navigate the many options in the marketplaces.