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Vanderbilt Alum Starts Beyond Celiac College Program to Spread Food Allergy Advocacy

Updated: Apr 12

By Sheryl Harpel, Founder of Gluten Free Friends

By the time Valerie graduated in 2021, Vanderbilt had an award-winning food allergy dining program

Valerie Kraft knows that one student has the potential to transform a college dining program. As a Vanderbilt University freshman, she organized students with food restrictions into a Student Allergy Advisory Council. Together, they increased awareness and motivated Vanderbilt to improve their food allergy dining program. By the time Valerie graduated in 2021, Vanderbilt was named Overall Food Allergy Champion for Universities. Vanderbilt won this award again in 2023, demonstrating the lasting impact of Valerie’s efforts.

As the Director of Community Engagement for Beyond Celiac, Valerie now helps other college students increase safe dining options at their schools. A firm believer that students should never be afraid to ask their college to meet their dietary needs, Valerie says that If one person puts in the energy to get things started, so many more will benefit! She adds that improvements on one campus can also motivate other colleges to follow.

“You have the power,” says Valerie. “The worst thing they can say is ‘no.’ You might as well try, if not for yourself, then for others!”

Beyond Celiac is a GFF College Advocacy partner and joins us in encouraging all college students with food restrictions to give feedback on their college dining programs!

Watch our interview with Valerie to learn more about how to make change happen on your campus!

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