Celiac College Student Survey submitted March, 2019
Food Service Vendor?
Sodexo was what my caf used
What stage are you in college?
Please describe your meal plan for each year there so far.
Freshman - I had all of my meals made by the head chefs specially for me in the back. Sophomore, junior and senior year, I was unable to receive safe food from the cafeteria and decided to cook all of my own food. I was given a waiver from the required meal plan and could bring my own food into the cafeteria to eat with friends. I tried to eat at the cafeteria my sophomore year (after there had been big management changes), but I would sometimes come in during my agreed-to meal times and there would be no food waiting for me, and I was unable to receive food that was not open to cross contamination.
How many years ago were you diagnosed with celiac?
How sensitive to gluten are you?
Very: React to small amounts
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?
Somewhat what I expected
Grade your college on feeding celiac students
Explain your rationale for that grade
My college tried its best and if I was able to receive the accommodations I received during my freshman year throughout college, my college would've received an A+. Unfortunately, with the management changes, I was continually made promises that were not kept in terms of making sure that food would be ready for me, creating new areas in the cafeteria protected from cross contamination, etc. I could tell that the chefs were doing their best, but at the time I was a student (from 2013-2016), there were not proper protocols in place to serve a gluten free, celiac student like me.
Check all that apply
My school is small and has only a few dining halls, Ability to feed me is pretty consistent across dining halls, I can find some but not enough food in any of the dining halls, 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. I worked with the DRC throughout my entire undergrad experience and did appreciate how they helped me communicate with the cafeteria and worked with my teachers to give me accommodations as needed.
Are there resources (nutritionists, chefs, peer support groups) to help ensure you are receiving safe nutritious food? Describe
Not that I was aware of at the time.
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.
Describe your biggest celiac challenge at college and how you manage it
It was a challenge making the time to prepare my own food along with working and going to classes after I was unable to eat at the caf.
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?
I would create a separate backroom full of separate ingredients that only students with allergen wrist bands or an allergen code on their student ID could get into so that only people who actually need to avoid those allergens and know the importance of avoiding cross contamination can access that food.
Did celiac impact your housing decision? How? Is there a certain dorm you recommend for celiacs? Why?
When I was able to eat at the cafeteria, I requested through the DRC early access to on-campus apartments so that I could have my own kitchen. If celiac students can have their own kitchens, that is obviously highly recommended, though I did still have to share it with roommates who ate gluten.
Your advice to new celiac kids for managing the dining halls? Favorite dining hall(s)?
Ask as many question as you can; meet with the head chef and the DRC before classes start; do not be shy in advocating for yourself and saying when something is not working.
Your advice to new celiac kids for eating in the dorm? Favorite snacks? Places that deliver?
Meal prep is your friend.
Your advice to new celiac kids on preparing before they come? Or doing upon first arrival?
ALWAYS contact the DRC and cafeteria ahead of time to talk about your options. I also recommend working with the DRC so that you can request a separate/extra fridge and mini freezer in your dorm room, as well as a separate microwave. That way you can have plenty of room for your own food.
Your advice to new celiac kids on managing keg parties and alcohol scene?
N/A dry campus
Grade your college town area for celiac friendliness
Favorite places to eat in town or foodshop?
San Diego is full of options! Just use Find Me Gluten Free ;) Some of my favorites were Stacked, True Foods Kitchen, Chipotle, Chick Fil A, etc.
Anything else you would like to add?
Going to college gluten free and with celiac disease is hard, but is totally possible. I was diagnosed only a few months before I started college and ended up being hospitalized for celiac complications halfway through my first semester. Nonetheless, I adapted. I learned how to cook all my own meals. I made friends with people who tried their best to help me and understand. I meal prepped at weird times so I'd know that the communal oven would be free, and I became best friends with bars like Lara Bars. At the end of the day, I graduated with a 4.0 GPA and a lot of good memories, even if my college's food wasn't necessarily one of them.