Parents: Gluten-free in College

delicious bowl with fresh berries and cereals
Anne MacLeod Weeks
Anne MacLeod Weeks

Anne has worked in college admissions for four decades and has published extensively on all aspects of the process. She taught AP English, consulted for the College Board, and was a leader in various educational initiatives in independent schools.

Does your student need access to gluten-free food while in college? The good news is, universities today are more aware of food allergies and special diets. The bad news is, finding accommodations for your student’s special diet can increase the stress of finding the right college. Take a moment to start thinking ahead to give yourself plenty of time.

Important Information

As usual, starting to research early can alleviate or prevent major 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.

Further Reading

Some resources that may be helpful are:

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.

Questions? Let us know!