Special Dining Needs

DCCE is invested in meeting the needs of all of our diners. Our menu has been engineered to include selections for those avoiding the top nine allergens as well as those seeking plant-based, vegan, halal, or kosher style options. We have a unique board plan, offering unlimited access to Commons during meal hours and limited grab n’ go selections for those needing additional support. Students with questions or concerns regarding Commons or dining at Bates should email dccespecdining@groups.bates.edu  to discuss their needs or set up a meeting.

Allergen Statement

Please note that manufacturers may change the formulation of foods without our knowledge. Additionally, because food is prepared in a commercial kitchen, using shared equipment, and presented in a self-service environment, there is a possibility of cross-contact with other foods and allergens.

Customers concerned about ingredients should be aware of these risks, be proactive about their food choices and speak with a Manager or Chef before consuming any food items, if they have questions. Bates DCCE labels for the top nine allergens: Dairy, Egg, Fish, Shellfish, Sesame, Soy, Peanuts, TreeNuts and Wheat*. It is ultimately the responsibility of the customer to decide what they choose to eat. Bates College does not assume any liability for adverse reactions related to foods consumed or mislabeled, or items one may come into contact with while in the DCCE operations.

*Note: Rather than directly labeling items as containing wheat, we label those that do not contain gluten.

Please refer to the labeling system below when checking menu cards or the online menu.

Board Plan Food Policy

Patrons may eat as much as they’d like while in the dining room, but the packing out of bulk food is prohibited, as is the removal of Commons china, glasses or silverware. A selection of to-go items are available at the Grab ‘n Go station, located near the entrance to Commons.  Patrons are welcome to take a snack – such as an apple, bagel, or ice cream cone –  or a beverage in an RBC (reusable beverage container.) 

Students with class or work conflicts that do not allow them to come to Commons during meal hours should email bobcatcatering@groups.bates.edu. We require a minimum of two working days in advance to arrange a to-go meal alternative.

If you have questions about special dining needs, please email dccespecdining@groups.bates.edu or reach out to Josh Palomera, Registered Dietitian and Nutrition Educator at jpalomera@bates.edu.

If your approved student organization will be away from campus and requires food, please contact Donald Desrosiers, Catering Manager,  at bobcatcatering@groups.bates.edu or x6298. A notice of at least five working days is required for all orders. 

Students With Meal Conflicts

Students with class or work conflicts that do not allow them to come to Commons during meal hours should email bobcatcatering@groups.bates.edu. We require a minimum of two working days in advance to arrange for a to-go meal alternative.

Students Requesting Dining Accommodations

The process for initiating accommodations is the responsibility of the student and is an interactive collaboration between the student, the Office of Accessible Education, and DCCE. Students are encouraged to begin this process before arriving on campus for the semester, or as soon as a new diagnosis is made during the school year. 

DCCE is committed to:

  • Actively engaging with students in a collaborative process to establish a plan for meeting special dining needs in the form of reasonable accommodations.
  • Introducing students to key culinary and management staff who will assist them in navigating Commons. Students will be apprised of the process for handling special dining requests, communication strategies, arrangements for special meal orders, and procurement of special products, if necessary.
  • Providing appropriate signage explaining the DCCE allergen statement and labeling conventions.
  • Training staff in allergy awareness.


Successfully navigating Commons requires that students:

  • Be their own advocate for their special dining needs.
  • Provide appropriate medical documentation when requested.
  • Access Net Nutrition prior to coming to Commons, for menu and allergen information.
    • Menu cards are posted where items are served.
    • Weekly menus are also posted in Commons.
  • Avoid foods that are unsafe for your condition.
  • Recognize symptoms of dietary nonadherence or, in the case of a food allergy, an allergic reaction.
  • Understand the proper use of medications to treat a food allergy, if appropriate.
  • Carry epinephrine in the form of an EpiPen, if prescribed, for treatment of an allergic reaction. (Bates Dining is required to call Campus Security and EMS if a reaction occurs. Students are asked not to leave the facility on their own.)
  • When in the dining hall, direct specific questions about ingredients or dining needs to a manager, supervisor, or the chef.
  • Remember that Commons is a self-serve facility and be aware of cross contact.
  • Maintain communication with the DCCE so that modifications or adjustments can be made as needed.
  • Understand that special requests may take longer to prepare.
  • Review the accommodations process and deadlines on the Accessible Education and Student Support website and initiate a request, if necessary.