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GFF College Dining Survey Responses

Pennsylvania State University

University Park


Survey Date:

Aug 14, 2023

Survey 1 of 3




Egg Allergy, Milk Allergy, Peanut Allergy

Student's Summary Assessment:

College Dining:


Surrounding Area:


Rationale for Grades Given

Penn State’s dietitians are fabulous and work with each student to devise a plan to eat on campus with food allergies. They had me meet with the head chef and manager at the dining hall closest to my dorm, and all full time staff are allergy trained. The menu can be filtered to eliminate allergens, and all the ingredients are posted online. In 3 years I’ve only had one bad experience where a mistake was made and an item containing dairy was added to my plate (thankfully caught before I ingested anything - no reaction occurred) and the dietitians immediately stepped in to mandate remedial training. Overall, my experience has been highly positive, even if the menu can be a little limited and repetitive when you eliminate certain allergens.

There are a lot of restaurants in State College, but none that are great for allergy dining. That being said, I’m generally pretty hesitant to dine out at all, especially at busy places like downtown restaurants most often are, so others may feel more comfortable than me! There are lots of grocery stores that carry allergy safe foods, which is awesome!

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)

Anaphylactic reactions to milk, egg, peanuts, and hazelnuts. Allergies are severe - even minimal cross contact could cause need for use of an epi pen

Details About this Student's College Dining Experience

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

Totally yes, was what I expected

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


If Yes, describe each incident and how your school responded

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

Yes, I registered with the disabilities office. I asked to get a second minifridge to reduce cross contact, to which they said “maybe,” and then it ended up being irrrelevant because I stayed home a year due to Covid and then moved into an on campus apartment.

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

Yes, two full time dietitians.

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

I would expand Penn State’s “Pure” dining station, a top-9 free and certified kosher area, to all 5 dining halls. It currently only exists in East Commons. I’m not sure how open Penn Stats would be to this suggestion - the station is fairly popular, but they already struggle keeping it open due to staffing shortages and the need to have a Rabbi on site to certify the items kosher.

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

I would say my biggest challenge is setting boundaries for myself. I’ve gotten a *lot* better at it, and I now have some amazingly supportive friends and roommates that help me remind our guests to wash their hands and avoid eating in our living spaces. Basically, don’t be afraid to stand up for your needs!

Advice for Incoming Students:


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

Yes, 100%! I’ve prioritized living in an on campus apartment where I have a full kitchen and can cook for myself.

Dining Halls:

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

Communicate with the dietitians to set up a plan and get to know the managers. They’re super nice and often recognize me on sight now :) my personal favorite at Penn State is Pollock because the menu is the broadest, with West as a close second.

Meal Plans:

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

Meal plan is mandatory if living on campus *unless* you’re in an on campus apartment. I haven’t had a meal plan the last two years because I cook so much it wasn’t economical to do a meal plan. I can still eat in the dining halls though!


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

Getting Started:

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


Advice on managing parties or dinners out with friends?


Any other advice or comments?

Meal Plans:

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