News from the Nest

Melissa Shivers, VP for Student Life

Melissa Shivers, VP for Student Life

It’s summertime in Iowa City, but we never stop thinking about our students. This month’s message focuses on the well-being of your student and the support you may need as a family member. 

Meeting students’ dietary needs

Allergies and other dietary needs could have an impact on students’ collegiate experiences. At the University of Iowa, we work to provide every dining customer a safe experience.

Students who require dietary accommodations have a variety of resources in University Housing and Dining’s market place and retail locations, and should work with our registered dietitian to discuss specific needs. Laura Croteau, LD, RD, can help any students with food allergies, navigating the market places, making a nutritious plate, NetNutrition®, and other nutrition-related questions.

Your student has access to a variety of resources to accommodate dietary needs.

  • All food and menu items are clearly labeled with icons that state whether an item contains gluten and or the following allergens: milk, eggs, fish, wheat, soy, shellfish, peanuts, and tree nuts. For more allergen information, visit

  • Almond and soy milk are available for those who are lactose intolerant, have a milk allergy, or have a food preference.

  • There are clearly labeled vegetarian and vegan options available throughout the market places.

  • If your student has a religious preference that excludes the consumption of pork or pork products, please speak with a dining team member. Halal beef and chicken are available upon request.

  • Each market place location has a chef that will prepare meals in a controlled environment to reduce the risk of cross contact. For more information, please e-mail the dietitian directly at

  • Market places each have a refrigerator with gluten-free products such as bread, buns, bagels, cookies, and other goodies. They also have gluten-free noodles, chicken tenders, and pizza available upon request.

  • Thrive, the allergy-free station in Burge Market Place, offers foods prepared exclusively with ingredients which do not contain gluten or the following allergens: milk, eggs, fish, wheat, soy, shellfish, peanuts, and tree nuts.

  • Dining staff are trained and certified on food allergies, celiac disease, and food intolerances/sensitivities through AllerTrain.

  • Students are invited to self-disclose at made-to-order stations in the market places so that proper procedures can be used to ensure safe cooking for that individual.

  • If a student’s allergies are not included on sign labels, the dietitian will analyze the menu for them.

  • Students should please let staff know if they are concerned about cross contact at their dining table. Staff will happily clean the area in attempt to remove allergen residue that may have been left.

Our team at University Housing and Dining wants your student to have the best possible experience, so please encourage your student to let us know how we can best work with them. They can reach us at or (319) 353-2908. 

Tools to help talk to your student

Many of the concerns we hear from families relate to alcohol, specifically the abuse of alcohol, on our campus. Additionally, many families are concerned about their student’s safety.

Related conversations about these topics can be difficult and we at the University of Iowa are committed to providing you with tools to have these discussions with your student. There are several important things to consider when approaching difficult conversations:

  • Your opinion matters to your student! You may feel your influence has waned, but they still want to hear from you.
  • The transition from high school to college provides parents with an optimal time period to talk about behavioral expectations with their student, including alcohol use, asking for consent, and healthy relationships.

We are committed to taking a proactive and comprehensive approach to address the misuse of alcohol. Our campus has made great progress over the last decade at lowering high risk drinking and reducing the negative impact on our students. This is a partnership throughout our campus and community, and you are an important partner in furthering these conversations.

The University is also committed to addressing sexual misconduct, including sexual assault, dating violence, sexual harassment, and stalking. Throughout your student’s time on campus, they have the opportunity to participate in many skill-building workshops around consent and building healthy relationships. Having conversations with your student about these topics helps reinforce this positive messaging.

Photos of handbook covers

To aid in your conversations with your student, we are providing the following resources:

We are grateful to have you as a partner in helping shape their UI experience.

Is your student needing some summer funds?

If your student is still in Iowa City and has the time to add to their cash flow, please pass along this Hire a Hawk link for their consideration. 

And, is your student looking for summer activities?

Summer Les Mills Fitness Class

Summer Les Mills Fitness Class / Photo by Cody Collogan

While Iowa City can be much quieter in the summer months, there still are activities all around. Recreational Services offers many programs and the Iowa City festivals are crowd favorites.

Enjoy the summer months ahead!

Together for UI, 

an image of the signature for Melissa S. Shivers, VP for Student Life

Melissa S. Shivers, PhD
Vice President for Student Life
Interim Chief Diversity Officer

Facebook (