Celiac College Student Survey completed March 2019
Food Service Vendor?
various - did not live in residence (graduate student), relied on various chains on-campus
What stage are you in college?
Please describe your meal plan for each year there so far.
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.
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 what I expected
Grade your college on feeding celiac students
Explain your rationale for that grade
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.).
Check all that apply
My school is large with many dining halls, Ability to eat well was a small part of my college selection process
Did you register with your students disabilities office for accommodations? 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 (nutritionists, chefs, peer support groups) to help ensure you are receiving safe nutritious food? Describe
Possibly. I did not seek out these resources. If I had lived on-campus, I likely would have.
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
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).
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 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.
Did celiac impact your housing decision? How? Is there a certain dorm you recommend for celiacs? Why?
Your advice to new celiac kids for managing the dining halls? Favorite dining hall(s)?
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 disability suites (private kitchenette).
Your advice to new celiac kids for eating in the dorm? Favorite snacks? Places that deliver?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.
Your advice to new celiac kids on preparing before they come? Or doing upon first arrival?
Your advice to new celiac kids on managing keg parties and alcohol scene?
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 :)
Grade your college town area for celiac friendliness
Favorite places to eat in town or foodshop?
Iki Japanese Restaurant (dedicated sushi place), Panne Rizo (dedicated bakery/cafe).
Anything else you would like to add?