Risk Management Art

Recognized student organizations at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln are adjusting to new rules regulating the food they can serve.

On July 1, 2019, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Risk Management office put its new food policy into full effect, regulating the sale and serving of food on campus, according to the UNL Business and Finance website

UNL public affairs director Leslie Reed said the policy was adopted over health concerns and to ensure standard practices are being followed. She said the policy is consistent with other Big Ten universities and University of Nebraska system institutions.

According to the website, the policy covers the entire UNL campus, with the exception of academic classes and classes taught by Campus Recreation within its facilities. 

The policy does not prevent people from bringing their own meals for personal consumption or prevent informal office luncheons, according to the website. 

The policy was enacted during the 2018-19 academic year on a “soft” basis, Reed said, so student groups weren’t surprised by the change and could adjust to it. 

Reed said student organizations that want to serve food at events must select from a list of university-approved food vendors and caterers under the new policy. However, student organizations can add their preferred vendor to the list by providing a Lancaster County health certificate and a certificate of insurance to UNL’s Risk Management office, according to Reed. 

Last updated on Sept. 3, 2019, the list of approved caterers consists of 66 restaurants and grocery stores. The list specifies not only the names of certain vendors but also their specific locations. For example, the list provides two Runza locations that student organizations can use, but a student organization could not use another Runza location without prior approval.

Additionally, Reed said bakery items need to meet the state of Nebraska’s regulations on bake sales, and UNL no longer allows the sale or serving of homemade food across campus. The new policy, according to the website, requires all food to be individually wrapped and labeled with the product identification and price, as well as ingredients and potential allergens. 

According to the website, any bake sale requires the completion of a Student Involvement event planning registration form.The new policy also requires groups to agree that UNL will not be held accountable in the event of legal action resulting from a bake sale.

Under the new policy, all beverages served at events, including bottled water, must be Pepsi products, according to the website.

Additionally, grill outs are now restricted to pre-cooked hamburgers and hot dogs, re-heated on a propane or gas grill. The website said other grilled food will need to be provided by a university-contracted caterer or approved food provider.

Food left at a temperature of 41 to 135 degrees Fahrenheit for more than four hours, including preparation, cooling and reheating time, is required to be discarded immediately and cannot leave the event venue.

UNL Tennis Club president and junior accounting and finance double major Ashley Tyler said she found the new food rules frustrating, as they required the club to get prepared food from Sam’s Club in south Lincoln and prevented the club from hosting a grill out.

Tyler is also an ambassador for the UNL Honors Program, which she said was not allowed to host a queso night under the new food policy because the item is considered to be temperature-dependent.

“I think that they have good intentions,” Tyler said. “But I think that they're a little excessive because, from my knowledge, nothing [has] happened from a risk management perspective.”