For college students with food allergies, leaving home for the first time and trying to figure out how to find safe food options can be a difficult task. Through Marquette University’s Simple Servings program, students …
For college students with food allergies, leaving home for the first time and trying to figure out how to find safe food options can be a difficult task. Through Marquette University’s Simple Servings program, students can find foods that are free of the top eight allergens. The Pink Bakery is the first dessert option for Marquette students through the Simple Servings program. Founded by local entrepreneur Nubian Simmons, The Pink Bakery produces allergen-free baking mixes in a Miller Valley manufacturing facility that opened last fall.
“Our goal is to make sure these students with dining restrictions receive the exact same dining experience and opportunities that students who don’t have allergies do,” said Anthony Damico, executive chef at Marquette’s dining hall The Commons. “This is the final icing on the cake that you can put a full meal together at one station.” Simmons created The Pink Bakery out of necessity. She is severely allergic to wheat and milk, responds negatively to cross contamination, and is also a vegan. The school’s culinary team first became aware of The Pink Bakery through the Marquette University 707 Hub. The Pink Bakery is part of the 707 Hub’s Near West Side partnership program. All the baking mixes provided by The Pink Bakery are stored in a separate location within the dining hall and baked in a different kitchen to prevent cross-contamination.
“We went through an audit of our space with Nubian to ensure she felt comfortable with us serving her product out of the space we have dedicated to this type of allergen-free cooking,” said Brian Coffee, resident district manager at Sodexo, a food services provider. Damico said the key to bringing The Pink Bakery to Marquette was the simplicity of using the company’s baking mixes. When serving hundreds of students every single day, finding a product that is easy to cook and provides consistent results is what the culinary team looks for. As the Simple Servings program continues, Damico hopes Marquette can become a leader in offerings for students with food allergies. He said the school’s culinary team is always on the lookout for new products they can bring to students. “When you have limited options that you can run at a station, is does create that opportunity to stay ahead of the curve and set the trend in the university segment so that we’re always giving kids a new, innovative product,” Damico said . Marquette’s dining halls are also open to the public.