The planner and F&B expert answers your questions.

Connect May/June 2012 Tracy Serves as F&B ExpertIn the May/June 2012 issue of Connect, Tracy served as the planner F&B expert answering questions on whether meeting and events planners are required to accommodate attendee’s dietary needs and how a how can a planner effectively meet attendee requests?

Are planners required to accommodate attendees’ food needs?

The Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act, which was signed into law in 2008, provides protection for those with special dietary needs. Not only were eating and learning added to the list of major life activities that must be accommodated, but the immune and digestive systems were added to the list of bodily functions, too. “This means that your food allergic and attendees with medically diagnosed diseases—diabetes, obesity, cancer, heart disease, celiac disease—who need to eat a specific way for health reasons, are now covered by the ADAAA,” says Stuckrath. “Therefore, we must provide safe, quality meals that meet their needs.”

How can a planner effectively meet attendee requests?

Attendees must not be afraid to communicate their dietary needs. But they must respect the host organization by informing them in advance and accurately. Meeting planners need to ask about dietary needs during the registration process, relay the information to their culinary partners as far in advance as possible, and work with them on the process in which these attendees will be served. Other suggestions include: Provide cards to the attendees that they can give to servers at their meal functions.

  • Provide identical cards for the culinary teams to tag the meals as they are made.
  • Ensure the needs are included on all BEOs, including those for off-site events.
  • Ask the culinary team to provide a list of what they will be serving the guests with dietary needs.
  • Ask about the process the culinary and serving teams will be using to serve the meals. I
  • f the group is small, introduce each of them to the banquet captain and/or the chef. A personal connection is key.