Celiac College Student Survey completed February 2019
Food Service Vendor?
What stage are you in college?
Please describe your meal plan for each year there so far.
I have a flex meal plan in which I have "cal poly dollars" which can be spent at most vendors on campus. There are not a lot of vendors with celiac-friendly services.
How many years ago were you diagnosed with celiac?
How sensitive to gluten are you?
Extremely: React to even small traces
How would you describe the worst reaction you have had since diagnosis?
Does your college handle celiac food restrictions as you expected they would when you selected your school?
Mostly not what I expected
Grade your college on feeding celiac students
Explain your rationale for that grade
805 Kitchen is good. It works and is safe. There are only 5 rotating meals and all of which are naturally gluten free. There is very little variety. Other places say they have gluten free options but are clearly not safe for people with CD. The grocery store has a decent amount of gluten free options.
Check all that apply
My school is small and has only a few dining halls, Ability to feed me varies greatly across dining halls, I avoid certain dining halls that I don't think are safe, I am only comfortable eating in a few dining halls, I can find some but not enough food in any of the dining halls, Ability to eat well was a small part of my college selection process, I asked alot of questions before I came but the reality was different
Did you register with your students disabilities office for accommodations? If yes, describe.
Yes. Got a 504 plan in place. Have a personal microwave and mini fridge that I kinda live off of.
Are there resources (nutritionists, chefs, peer support groups) to help ensure you are receiving safe nutritious food? Describe
Yes. Only at the 805 kitchen in my opinion. The nutritionists would disagree, but if I throw up eating at a dining hall I'm not going back there.
How many times have you been glutenized in your dining hall? If you didn't answer NONE, please explain what happened and how school responded.
The first one was at a school sponsored event with supposed event advertised to have gluten free pizza. I talked with the owners of the pizza place and their daughter has CD and they took what seemed like good precautions. They cooked in a separate area for people with CD and use clean utensils and whatnot. Supposedly everyone had training too. So I trusted them and ate the pizza, but preceded to get migraines for the next week (a typical reaction to get glutened for me). I'm guessing something with the handling went wrong. It was for a large event, so perhaps precautions were limited since they had to rush to make over fifty pizzas. I told my dietician who had told me the pizzas were gluten free enough. I do not think anything happened. Was a bit risky to eat the pizza on my end, but I figured if the owner had a daughter with CD the pizza would be CD friendly. I was wrong.
The second exposure was more directly connected to the school. I met with my dietician in the afternoon to discuss what options she considers to be gluten free enough on campus. She suggested a juice shop that was on the other end of campus from me, a hamburger place with gluten free buns in the middle of campus, a few other seemingly risky options, and of course 805 kitchen. 805 kitchen is the only place I really trust to this day. I trusted her and ate at the hamburger place. I told the workers that I had a severe gluten allergy and asked them to change their gloves. They changed gloves and used a separate area and these packaged-uncooked gluten free buns. The fries were made in a separate fryer and the hamburgers were cooked in an area that buns had not been cooked on. It seemed safe. The buns did not taste gluten free, but I thought they were safe, so continued to eat them. I ate the hamburger and to threw up three hours later. I told my dietician what happened. She said that the buns were make by a local bakery. I do not think my dietician took the time to inspect the place. They were either severely cross contaminated or maybe not actually gluten free. Up till that day I never threw up upon digesting gluten. I was diagnosed with silent CD. Roughly six months before when I went on my gluten challenge I did not have a reaction worse than migraines. My dietician told me she'd look into it. Doubt she ever did. I asked her to not recommend the place for people with CD, but clearly it was not safe enough.
Describe your biggest celiac challenge at college and how you manage it How and when to eat.
I current just live off amazon and the campus grocery store (that has some gf options). I manage it by living off my mini-fridge and microwave.
If you were in charge of dining, what changes would you implement to better feed celiac students? Would your school be open to these suggestions?
Have a greater variety of gluten free products and offer things like gluten free hamburger buns that are specially prepared by trained staff.
Did celiac impact your housing decision? How? Is there a certain dorm you recommend for celiacs? Why? No.
I decided to live in a dorm for the social aspect.
Your advice to new celiac kids for managing the dining halls? Favorite dining hall(s)?
Live off of 805 and campus market's grocery store. I would not trust students in preparing your food.
Your advice to new celiac kids for eating in the dorm? Favorite snacks? Places that deliver?
805 has takeout! It's a bit tricky to coordinate though.
Your advice to new celiac kids on preparing before they come? Or doing upon first arrival?
Make friends that can take you to Vons! They are the only grocery store with a significant amount of gf options.
Your advice to new celiac kids on managing keg parties and alcohol scene?
I'm in the substance free dorm which is actually substance free. I love it, but people in the substance free dorm aren't as social.
Grade your college town area for celiac friendliness
Favorite places to eat in town or foodshop?
Jomba Juice and there's a burger place by the harbor that has pretty good gluten free food!
Anything else you would like to add?
It's not an ideal situation, but you can make it work! I feel like the school is learning by people with CD or gluten sensitivity getting glutened rather than actually checking to see if places are gluten free enough to recommend them to people with severe allergies. 805 works alright because the food is cooked in a separate area by trained staff (they went through a day-long training course). So I eat from 805 occasionally now, but mostly eat frozen food from the campus grocery store that is certified gluten free. I don't really trust the school much anymore. 805 works, but I can't stand to eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner everyday at one place. The food is on a 5 day rotation between chicken, turkey, ground beef, really bad corn-shelled tacos, and stew. It's all naturally gluten free so it seems relatively safe.
As for expanding the 805 kitchen system, it probably would not happen anytime soon due to the need for having a whole separate kitchen and the need to train the cooking staff. All the gluten free cooking ware is color coded accordingly too. It seems like that kind of system would not be worth it in the school's mind. On the bright side, there's a new dining area being built. It's suppose to be done next year and have a few more gluten free options.