The good news is universities are more aware of food allergies and special diets. The bad news is adding the need to find accommodations for your student’s special diet can increase the stress of finding the right college.
As usual, starting to research early can alleviate that stress. Three great resources on a campus are the Dining Hall Director, the Office for Students with Disabilities, and the Health Center. All three of these resources should have information on what the university dining services provide. It is also helpful to research what is allowed and what is available in the dormitories. Are university students allowed to have microwaves or toaster ovens? Small refrigerators? Is there a dormitory kitchen and how accessible is it?
When you visit campus, make appointments with each of these offices to ask questions you have prepared based on your student’s individual needs. Eat a meal in the dining hall and check out any supplementary food options on campus, such as a grill or student union. Take time to visit the local grocery store and to check out restaurants in town to see if there are enough options off-campus.
Food is such a central part of college life, you want to make sure your student has the options necessary to avoid feeling isolated. Good food = good morale, after all.
Some resources that may be helpful are:
- Gluten Free University
- Gluten Free in College
- Guide to Gluten Free in College
- 25 Notable Gluten-Free Colleges
- Top 10 Vegan Friendly Colleges
- Vegetarian Friendly Colleges
- Gluten Free Dining Halls
A great resource is FARE. They give guidance on researching colleges, campus visits, and even how to navigate dating.
Every parent who has a student with a food allergy or a specific dietary need knows the importance of placing their student in the right food environment and the comfort that comes from knowing the people in charge at college are sensitive and knowledgeable about those needs. By following the steps above, you can be assured your student will start college on the right foot.