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Advocating for inclusive, safe dining for college students with food restrictions
GFF College Dining Survey Responses
Pennsylvania State University
Mar 24, 2023
Survey 1 of 2
Gluten Intolerance, Egg Allergy, Milk Allergy, Peanut Allergy, Shellfish Allergy, Tree Nut Allergy, Other
Student's Summary Assessment:
Rationale for Grades Given
They have a lot of good options and are really good at catering to an individual’s needs in the dining halls. Outside of the dining hall food you have to be careful but they do still have good options.
There arent any restaurants that I feel safe eating at. There are many GF options but with my allergies it is a lot harder. The stores are far off campus and I have to go to multiple to get things that I need.
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?
Moderate: React sometimes
Add details to help us better understand your food restrictions (e.g. sensitivity level, potential reaction, need for EPI pen)
Dairy, Egg, and nut allergies can lead to anaphylaxis. Gluten upsets my stomach a lot. I have a soy intolerance as well that causes hives and swelling in the mouth.
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
It was actually a reaction to a premade store brand item that should have been okay, but ended up causing a reaction. Otherwise I never had a reaction to the hand prepared food.
Did you register your food restriction with the disabilities office? If yes, describe
No, I did not need to and got accommodations through a different department.
Are there resources to help with nutritious, safe dining (e.g. dietician)? If yes, describe
They have dietitians and nutritionists.
If you were in charge of dining, what would you change? Would your school be open to suggestions?
There’s not much I would change they really accommodated me well and made me feel safe eating there. I do believe they would be open to suggestions.
Describe your biggest challenge managing your food restrictions at college and how you deal with it
Getting food outside of the dining hall is the most challenging. I can’t eat at any of the restaurants on campus and the small shops are limited. I end up having to take the bus to grocery store to get food.
Advice for Incoming Students:
Did your food restrictions impact your housing decisions? Any dorm recommendations
It did, I was worried about not having a kitchen to cook in but I ending up moving into a special living option that had a full kitchen. A lot of the dorms especially the newer ones have shared kitchens or kitchenettes. I bought all my own utensils and other cooking items so I didn’t have to share or worry about cross contamination.
Any advice for managing dining halls? Favorite dining halls? Any to avoid?
My advice is to go directly to the source as soon as possible. I got in contact with a nutritionist who got me in contact with a dietitian who works with the dining and they walked me through everything. I got to meet and talk with the head chef at my dining hall and we worked out a plan and a list of meals that I could eat. I lived in West at Penn State main campus and they had some of the best food I’ve ever had. I still dream about their rib nights.
Describe your meal plans over the year(s). What's mandatory? Any suggestions?
Any advice for eating in the dorms? Favorite snacks? Places that deliver?
Every room is given a mini fridge and microwave which was great and allowed me to keep a little of snacks. It’s always good to have easy meals to make when there’s a night you might not want to go out to the dining hall.
What should students do before school starts or when they first arrive?
Before school: get in contact with a dietitian or disability office to help you get in contact with dining and work out a plan. When you first arrive: let your RA know about any allergies and if you carry an epi pen, lastly just have fun!
Advice on managing parties or dinners out with friends?
I always felt better bringing my own food to events or dinner, but it’s also nice to find places that can make you safe food.
Any other advice or comments?
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