Managing Allergens

Allergies and Special Diets
Fresh Picks Café and the North Middlesex Regional School District take service to students with special dietary needs very seriously. Our kitchens have designated areas and equipment to prepare meals for students with special dietary needs and our food service employees go through significant allergen awareness training. We offer menus for students with special dietary needs designed to be as close as possible to our regular menus and made with as much whole, fresh food that is naturally free of allergens as possible (rather than processed specialty foods). We have created protocols and systems to serve students with special dietary needs safely, efficiently and in compliance with all government regulations and standards.

The standard Fresh Picks Café meals program is free of artificial dyes, shellfish, tree nuts and peanuts. Some packaged snacks that may be available for sale outside of the meal program may be prepared in a facility that also processes nut products; these items are never included in the full meals available to students.

Medical Documentation
Proper medical documentation allows the food service program to serve students safely and is required by the USDA and the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. The requirements for medical documentation can be found by clicking the “Allergy Parent Letter ” link on the left side of this page. If the school does not have proper medical documentation on file, the cafeteria will be unable to serve your student with a special dietary need.
Once the health office receives proper medical documentation for special dietary needs and conveys that information to the food service program, the process of putting a customized plan in place to serve that student safely can begin. Food intolerances and non-life-threatening allergies are managed by the onsite staff. More complex and life-threatening cases are managed at a higher level.

Complex and Severe Allergies
Students that have complex or severe food sensitivities or allergies must have special menus prepared for them and pre-ordering is required. Once the food service program has received proper medical documentation, the family of a student with special dietary needs will be contacted by the Fresh Picks Café Food Service Director, District Manager and/or Regional Dietitian. We will establish a system where each month’s menu is provided to that family in advance and a monthly meeting will be scheduled to discuss the menu and plan out which days the special dietary needs can be accommodated.

Gluten Free Menu
North Middlesex Regional School District has chosen to provide a standard gluten free menu, with at least one gluten free option available daily. Under this program no medical documentation is required to order from the gluten free menu. However, gluten free items must be pre-ordered at the beginning of each week (or ordered in advance for the entire month). Orders for gluten free items must be placed using our online order form no later than 10 PM the Sunday before any school week. A new Gluten Free Order Form will be posted on the Tuesday of the last full week of each month. You can access the Gluten Free Order Form through this link:  

Vegetarian Options
Fresh Picks Café menus include a minimum of one vegetarian option each day at all grade levels. No preordering required.
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