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GFF College Dining Survey Responses

Drake University

Des Moines


Survey Date:

Dec 27, 2023

Survey 1 of 1




Egg Allergy, Milk Allergy, Other

Student's Summary Assessment:

College Dining:


Surrounding Area:


Rationale for Grades Given

Drake has a Simple Servings station that does not use the 8 main food allergens. However, other stations in the dining hall mixed utensils, and staff used gloves hands to touch food. I would ask staff to change their gloves many times. I had a severe allergic reaction my sophomore year, and the dining hall administration was very good about seeing what may have caused the reaction.

Des Moines has lots of great restaurants that listen to allergies! One of my favorite local spots has been so awesome about my allergies because many staff members have a family member with a dietary restriction. Some other places are more difficult, especially when there is a language barrier at a small family-owned restaurant.

Details About this Student's Food Restrictions

How many years ago were you diagnosed with food allergies or celiac disease?


If you indicated celiac or gluten intolerance, how sensitive are you to gluten?

Add details to help us better understand your food restrictions (e.g. sensitivity level, potential reaction, need for EPI pen)

SEVERE food allergies to dairy and eggs; hives and vomiting; epi-pen and ER visit required
Allergy to melon; sore throat but usually resolved with Benadryl
Avocado allergy; severity and symptoms unknown

Details About this Student's College Dining Experience

Does your college handle food restrictions as you expected when you decided to attend?

Mostly what I expected

Have you had a reation from eating in your dining hall?


If Yes, describe each incident and how your school responded

I had a severe allergic reaction at the beginning of my sophomore year. I ate something that was familiar to me and felt symptoms come on as soon as 45 minutes later. I vomited, had hives, and felt extremely warm. I had to use my epi-pen and an ambulance was called. My family contacted the university and the dining hall. It is still unclear if I was allergic to the ingredients I ingested (as the menu boards are notoriously not correct compared to what is being served) or if cross contamination had occured. The university assured us they did everything they could, but they cannot be responsible for a self-service station where a student might have used the wrong utensil.

Did you register your food restriction with the disabilities office? If yes, describe


Are there resources to help with nutritious, safe dining (e.g. dietician)? If yes, describe

Yes. There is a full-time dietician who helps students navigate. I have an entire email chain with her about safe breads.

If you were in charge of dining, what would you change? Would your school be open to suggestions?

The school has a student committee for improving the dining hall experience, but I don't know if food allergies is a focus. I would first make sure that all menu boards match what is being served every day. I would also retrain all staff to use utensils that are designated for each station. I would also move the cheese, eggs, and peanuts away from everything else at the salad bar (which I did suggest and was done for a time).

Describe your biggest challenge managing your food restrictions at college and how you deal with it

The biggest challenge is finding variety. After my reaction, I stuck to the same 2 or 3 meals that I knew were safe, but I know variety is healthy.

Advice for Incoming Students:


Did your food restrictions impact your housing decisions?  Any dorm recommendations

My allergies are ingest only, so housing was not a concern to me. But make sure your dorm has a kitchenette so you can cook for yourself from time to time!

Dining Halls:

Any advice for managing dining halls?  Favorite dining halls? Any to avoid?

Advocate for yourself! Ask staff to change their gloves! Don't be afraid to ask about ingredients, even if people look at you funny. You have to take care of yourself!

Meal Plans:

Describe your meal plans over the year(s). What's mandatory? Any suggestions? 

Meal plans are required when you live on Drake's campus, and they have a 2 year on-campus living requirement. I always chose the meal plan with the smallest number of meal swipes for the dining hall and the most Dining Dollars. I would use these to purchase things I could make in our convenience store.


Any advice for eating in the dorms? Favorite snacks? Places that deliver? 

My parents sent me with lots of safe snacks. I'm grateful that my family is in a financial place to help provide safe food for me. Bring a snack cart! I learned Oreos were vegan in college, and they quickly became my go-to study snack!!

Getting Started:

What should students do before school starts or when they first arrive?

Reach out to the dietician or person in charge of allergy accommodations!! Introduce yourself so that your first interaction is not a complaint or a reaction notice!


Advice on managing parties or dinners out with friends?

The right friends will advocate for you too. My social sorority always has dairy free options, and it makes me feel included. My friends remind restaurant staff of my allergies (even if I do too), and they help me find new places I can try to branch out. In addition, now that we live off campus, I have several friends who invite me over for allergy friendly meals. My boyfriend also has food allergies (different from mine unfortunately), and the moral support of knowing someone else with allergies has been so wonderful!


Any other advice or comments?

Meal Plans:

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