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Advocating for inclusive, safe dining for college students with food restrictions
GFF College Dining Survey Responses
University of British Columbia
Mar 12, 2019
Survey 1 of 1
Student's Summary Assessment:
Rationale for Grades Given
I cannot speak for residence food/dining halls, but there were no celiac-safe food outlets on campus at the time I attended. The only options available were grocery/convenience stores (eg. bars, chips, fresh fruit, packaged hummus). Some outlets offered "gluten-free" foods, but these were prepared in an uncontrolled, shared environment. Catered events rarely had gluten-free options, and when they did it was typically buffet style with no controls in place to prevent cross-contamination (ie. gluten-free cookies on same plate as normal ones, or bread/cracker place beside open gluten-free options etc.).
Iki Japanese Restaurant (dedicated sushi place), Panne Rizo (dedicated bakery/cafe).
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?
Extremely: React to even small traces
Add details to help us better understand your food restrictions (e.g. sensitivity level, potential reaction, need for EPI pen)
Completed original celiac survey which did not ask about other food allergies
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
Did you register your food restriction with the disabilities office? If yes, describe
No. As I lived off-campus, I planned mostly to bring packed lunches from home. Since I did not live on-campus, I am not sure that the disability office would be of much assistance, since my interest in eating on-campus was restricted to times when I was unexpectedly kept there late or when I did not pack enough food with me.
Are there resources to help with nutritious, safe dining (e.g. dietician)? If yes, describe
Possibly. I did not seek out these resources. If I had lived on-campus, I likely would have.
If you were in charge of dining, what would you change? Would your school be open to suggestions?
I think that a good idea would be to have a centralized gluten-free prep area that is dedicated, and then package and distribute out a certain subset of ready-to-go meal items (eg. sandwiches, salads, baked goods etc.) to most food outlets on campus. This would ensure that all students, visitors, and faculty/staff would have access to gluten-free food that they do not have to worry about.
Describe your biggest challenge managing your food restrictions at college and how you deal with it
Simply finding a meal that is a meal, and not a snack of some kind. While I would generally pack a lunch celiac or otherwise, it is stressful to know that you must ALWAYS bring the exact amount of food you will need for what could be an extended period of time. It feels as if there is no room for error. Since I am an athlete as well, this is problematic as underfueling effects my performance, and short-term health/ability to concentrate (low blood sugar).
Advice for Incoming Students:
Did your food restrictions impact your housing decisions? Any dorm recommendations
No. I would have lived off-campus without celiac as I was a graduate student. During my undergrad (undiagnosed) I lived in an apartment-style residence that had a kitchen. Had I been diagnosed earlier, I would have chosen this style of residence, but perhaps asked for one of the diability suites (private kitchenette).
Any advice for managing dining halls? Favorite dining halls? Any to avoid?
Don't accept food that you do not feel is safe. Do what you have to do (grocery store food etc.) if the options are not satisfactory.
Describe your meal plans over the year(s). What's mandatory? Any suggestions?
I was diagnosed with celiac disease at the end of my undergraduate degree, and so was not gluten-free prior to this. During graduate school, I did not have a meal plan as I lived off-campus.
Any advice for eating in the dorms? Favorite snacks? Places that deliver?
What should students do before school starts or when they first arrive?
Advice on managing parties or dinners out with friends?
Still go to parties - social isolation is a terrible consequence of celiac. Be conscious of touching beer-laden surfaces, and bring your own alcohol and drinking vessel. Also bring snacks (bars, chips) that you don't share with other people. Most of the people will be drunk and won't care about what you're doing as long as you're participating :)
Any other advice or comments?
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