A new formal food policy adopted by Binghamton University over the summer will regulate how campus groups can sell and offer edible products on campus.
The policy, which outlines the University’s responsibility in providing and approving food and beverage services, aims to guarantee that food on campus will be served safely. It requires student organizations tabling on campus to only offer pre-packaged and low risk food items, and provides guidelines for faculty members and employees offering food to classes and in their offices.
The policy was developed by a committee consisting of representatives from the Student Association and the Graduate Student Association, as well as staff from the Multicultural Resource Center, the University Union and BU Dining Services. Paul Zakrepine, co-president of the Student Culinary Council (SCC) and a senior majoring in biochemistry, said the reasoning behind generating a formal food policy was to create a convenient and accessible document that will cover the rules of hosting food-based events.
“The common practice before the implementation of the food policy was to find answers online here and there and not in any formal fashion,” Zakrepine wrote in an email. “Additionally, students had no reference as to what they can and can’t prepare on campus for others. This in turn led to unsafe food-handling practices that put others at risk for contracting a foodborne illness.”
Deanne Ellison, director of Auxiliary Services, wrote in an email that the previous food policy was simply a practice rather than being formally adopted by the University.
“We are very fortunate that our campus partner, Binghamton University Dining Services, has impeccable standards,” Ellison wrote. “We felt it was important to the campus community to formalize a policy and procedures to make sure those high standards were well communicated and practiced consistently for all events and campus activities.”
According to Zakrepine, the policy will provide guidance for students on how to properly and safely handle food during events, such as dealing with food allergies.
“With the food policy officially in place, students can check all their bases for the proper handling of food and other actions related to food safety, such as hiring outside event caterers to provide food that Dining Services does not offer,” Zakrepine wrote. “Additionally, an official policy helps dining administrators regulate actions that put others at risk, like serving improperly prepared food or not advertising common allergens in prepared dishes.”
Zakrepine said although the effects of the policy may not be noticeable, it will exist as support for students, faculty and staff groups.
“The change will likely not be noticeable unless they are holding a relatively large food-based event,” Zakrepine wrote. “In that case, the food policy is there to support them as a sort of rule book to guide these individuals.”
Ellison clarified that the policy will not restrict an individual from purchasing food from off-campus vendors or bringing the product to campus for individual use.
“One of the most important goals for campus dining administrators and other participating campus community members is a safe, but enjoyable dining experience for students, staff and faculty,” Zakrepine wrote. “An official food policy lets students easily follow steps to a safe dining experience.”