Chef at Fare

Fan Fare

November 10, 2022
Fare was added to the Heilman Dining Center to accommodate the needs of special diet students. Cherelle Lewis-Seals and Karen Hensley describe their work at the new station and improvements for those with dietary restrictions.
A sleek renovation to the Heilman Dining Center (HDC) this past summer led to the creation of Fare; an area dedicated to feeding students with food allergies. Special diet cook Cherelle Lewis-Seals and Senior Registered Dietician Karen Hensley manage the area together to provide an equitable dining hall experience for all.

Before Fare, the special diet kitchen was located near the woks and just behind the serving line. The new area is located next to the deli, away from other food preparation areas. At Fare, students can access a special diet refrigerator and pantry. All food preparation for this new station is encompassed in one area for Lewis-Seals, and is much more safe in regard to allergen cross-contamination.

Lewis-Seals and Hensley enjoy working closely with students and have seen the requests for special diet accommodations increase over the past few years. A program that once provided meals for eight students now accommodates 21 students. “There is a rise in the number of people who have food allergies and the number of people being put on special diets due to medical reasons,” said Hensley.

Lewis-Seals has watched this number increase during her eight years on the dining services team. Every day Lewis-Seals interacts with special diet students, and enjoys getting to know them on a personal level. Special diet student Halle Zweibel ’25 stated, “I have gotten to know Cherelle by picking up my food and starting conversations. It is sweet to know that she has gotten to know me not only as a person, but also my likes and dislikes when it comes to food.” Zweibel has felt a sense of relief and comfort through the cooking Lewis-Seals provides and the program Hensley organizes. One of Lewis-Seals’s innovative dishes, and fan favorites by her students, is the lemon chicken pasta which she makes with coconut milk instead of cream.

There are many dining offerings around campus for special diet students to take advantage of as well. Every retail location has options with gluten-friendly ingredients. Hensely looks forward to expanding Fare and the various programs provided for special diet students at UR. Every student is invited to stay on top of their nutrition by downloading the app called EdibleBytes. This app gives users access to the nutrition facts, a list of allergens found in each dish, and the ingredients used to prepare meals at the HDC and other dining locations on campus.

All of these options and the creation of Fare allow students with food allergies to experience the joy and social atmosphere that is D-Hall, with a sense of safety. In describing her dining hall experience, Zweibel said “It is comforting to know that there is a place on campus where I can go and not have to worry about what I am going to be able to eat.”