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GFF College Dining Survey Responses

Yale University

New Haven


Survey Date:

Jan 6, 2024

Survey 1 of 1


Recent Grad


Celiac Disease

Student's Summary Assessment:

College Dining:


Surrounding Area:


Rationale for Grades Given

Beyond not offering celiac-safe meals, my biggest issue was the meal plan requirement for on campus student. After I realized I wouldn't be able to eat in the dining halls without getting sick, I was willing to give up on the dining halls and prepare my own food (far from ideal situation, of course, but still better than compromising my health). But to do that I had to send over 100 emails, lead over 20 meetings, and eventually had to reach all the way to the Dean of Student Affairs to get special permission to not be on the meal plan. I'm the first student that was allowed this exception, but I know several people who got tired of making constant requests and now are both paying for a meal plan AND buying all of their own food.

I have found all the options I need in grocery stores, but they are a bit far from campus so if you'll be carrying a lot they generally require a car or bus ride to get to.

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)

Takes me about 5 days to physically recover after I have consumed gluten.

Details About this Student's College Dining Experience

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

Mostly not what I expected

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


If Yes, describe each incident and how your school responded

There was a semester where out of 3 months I felt ok for 6 total days. The other 84 I spent experiencing fatigue, GI issues, brain fog, and also stopped menstruating. Over the course of the semester, I brought up the issue with countless people: the campus dietician, the dining hall manager, the cooks/chefs in the dining hall, my residential college dean, and senior leadership at Yale Hospitality. They tried countless things to fix the issue: preparing food for me separate from the rest, changing gloves, new pots/pans, cooking covered in the oven, but unfortunately nothing was able to keep me safe from cross-contamination. I really don't think this is the fault of individual cooks but rather the shared kitchens and my sensitivity level.

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

Yes, I registered with Student Accessibility Services and they were overall very helpful. They helped find academic accommodations during the semester I was very sick. They also supported my request for a reduced meal plan.

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

There is a dietician who I met with several times. She was kind and able to make requests to the dining halls about what food I should have access to, but obviously was unable to actually prevent the cross contact actually happening in my food.

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

My absolute dream would be to have a 100% gluten free dining hall so I would be able to experience the joys of sharing meals with my friends. I wouldn't mind giving up other allergens as well (e.g. nuts, eggs) if it meant having access to safe meals. However even without that I think there should be a protocol for opting out of the required meal plan if the university can't meet your needs.

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

Most of it has been detailed above, but I guess to summarize, challenges include: having to perform academically while being sick, navigating social settings centered around food (I just bring my food and my friends have all been fine with that, but it definitely requires planning in advance), getting tired of having to explain why I need different food, going hungry if I forget to pack my own food.

Advice for Incoming Students:


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

Yes, my senior year I decided to move off campus so I could have access to a kitchen.

Dining Halls:

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

Meal Plans:

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

For "every" student living on campus, a full meal plan is required. (I say every in quotes because this remains the rule, but I was able to get granted permission to be removed from the meal plan after months of requests).


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

If you have to cook your own food out of a dorm room, it's not ideal but it's possible (I did it for a year!). I made it work with a mini fridge/freezer, microwave, air fryer, and rice cooker. You'd be surprised how much you can do with those tools. Rice cookers can be used to boil eggs, make soups, chilli, etc. Air fryers can do essentially anything an oven can (roast veggies, tofu, chicken, salmon, potatoes, toast bread (gf, of course)). Another hack I found useful was batch cooking meals over breaks and freezing them in single-serve portions. On nights I didn't feel like cooking, I'd microwave those and have a home-made meal available. I repurposed 3 drawer dresser as a "counter" and kitchen storage.

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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