Food Allergy and Celiac College Student Survey submitted October 2021
DESCRIBE YOUR FOOD RESTRICTIONS BY CHECKING ALL RELEVANT BOXES Celiac Disease, Other (describe below)
GRADE YOUR COLLEGE ON FEEDING STUDENTS WITH YOUR FOOD RESTRICTIONS C+
EXPLAIN YOUR RATIONALE FOR THAT GRADE Pre-COVID, the dining halls offered scheduled meals directly from the kitchen and identifies allergens in the normal food, plus one dining hall had a dedicated gf freezer. The scheduled meals were frequently not yet made when I went to pick them up and I was given an incorrect meal several times, however they never caused a reaction. The food from the regular dining areas was well labeled but sometimes arranged or prepared in a way that risked cross contamination. I was very careful and this food never made me sick either. I briefly had to go on a dairy free diet in addition to my gluten free diet and the process of changing that was very easy. However, during COVID they have significantly reduced accommodations for students with only a few allergies. Last year students with only a few allergies could not order meals from the kitchen and had to pick up pre-selected meal boxes as all dining was carry-out only. I contacted several people who had been very helpful in the past and they would only confirm that there would be top 8 allergen free meals available and would not answer my questions about whether these meals would be gluten free as well. They also advised me that menu information would be posted in advance on an app, but it never was. This led me to decide not to live on campus as all on campus students are required to have a dining plan and exceptions are very difficult to get approved. I do not have a dining plan this year, but I have heard that top 8 allergen free stations have been added to all dining halls. Throughout my entire time here, gluten free options at the dining services operated convenience stores and cafes around campus have been extremely limited, usually one salad if there are any options other than fruit and granola bars
WHAT STAGE ARE YOU IN COLLEGE? Junior
HOW MANY YEARS AGO WERE YOU DIAGNOSED WITH FOOD ALLERGIES OR CELIAC DISEASE? 5+
PLEASE USE THIS SPACE TO PROVIDE DETAILS THAT WOULD HELP US BETTER UNDERSTAND YOUR FOOD RESTRICTIONS. INCLUDE YOUR REACTION IF EXPOSED TO THE FOODS YOU ARE AVOIDING. PLEASE MENTION IF YOU CARRY AN EPI-PEN. Celiac disease- abdominal pain, nausea, acid reflux, headaches, brain fog, fatigue, bloating: all severe enough to impact my daily activities significantly but not prevent me from doing everything; lactose intolerance- abdominal discomfort, bloating, gas, sometimes nausea: mild reaction as long as the amount of dairy is fairly small
IF YOU INDICATED THAT YOU HAVE CELIAC DISEASE OR ARE GLUTEN INTOLERANT, HOW SENSITIVE ARE YOU TO GLUTEN? Extremely: React to even small traces
DOES YOUR COLLEGE HANDLE FOOD RESTRICTIONS AS YOU EXPECTED THEY WOULD WHEN YOU SELECTED YOUR SCHOOL? Somewhat what I expected
CHECK ALL BOXES THAT APPLY TO YOUR COLLEGE EXPERIENCE My school has only a few dining halls, Ability to feed me is fairly consistent across dining halls, I have at least one safe dining hall, but avoid some dining halls, I have sufficient options at some of the dining halls, Ability to eat well was a critical part of my college selection process, I asked alot of questions before I came but the reality was different
HAVE YOU HAD A REACTION FROM EATING IN YOUR DINING HALL? NO
PLEASE DESCRIBE YOUR MEAL PLAN FOR EACH YEAR THERE SO FAR. INCLUDE IF YOUR SCHOOL REQUIRED ANY OF THESE DECISIONS. IF YOU ARE EATING IN A GREEK HOUSE OR OTHER CLUB TYPE ARRANGEMENT INCLUDE THAT AS WELL. Freshman- required unlimited dining plan and dining dollars to be used in campus-operated cafes, sophomore- COVID online classes and lack of answers to questions about allergen safety after dining changes led to me living at home so no dining plan, junior- living near but not on campus so no dining plan but dining dollars for use in the campus-operated cafes
DID YOU REGISTER YOUR FOOD RESTRICTIONS WITH YOUR STUDENTS DISABILITIES OFFICE FOR ACCOMMODATIONS? IF YES, DESCRIBE. No, our disabilities office does not do anything for food restrictions
ARE THERE RESOURCES (NUTRITIONISTS, CHEFS, PEER SUPPORT GROUPS) TO HELP ENSURE YOU ARE RECEIVING SAFE NUTRITIOUS FOOD? IF YES, DESCRIBE. Yes, as far as I am aware only the chefs and allergy coordinators
IF YOU WERE IN CHARGE OF YOUR SCHOOL'S DINING, WHAT CHANGES WOULD YOU IMPLEMENT TO BETTER FEED STUDENTS WITH YOUR FOOD RESTRICTIONS? WOULD YOUR SCHOOL BE OPEN TO THESE SUGGESTIONS? Expand top allergen free offerings in the dining halls and the cafes and ensure those items are gluten free, not just wheat free. Rearrange dining halls to minimize potential for cross contamination and contain allergens in specific areas as much as possible. Ensure that meals scheduled with the kitchen are made correctly and on time. Try to work with disability services to allow students with severe allergies/celiac to register with them to create better enforcement and better opportunities for recourse/class accommodations if a student is exposed to one of their allergens.
DESCRIBE YOUR BIGGEST CHALLENGE WITH MANAGING YOUR FOOD RESTRICTIONS AT COLLEGE AND HOW YOU DEAL WITH IT Currently, it's finding gluten free products in stores that I can get to easily. I have yet to find a complete solution, but my current partial one is asking my parents to drop off essentials that I cannot find, like bread.
DID YOUR FOOD RESTRICTIONS IMPACT YOUR HOUSING DECISION? HOW? IS THERE A CERTAIN DORM YOU RECOMMEND FOR THOSE WITH FOOD RESTRICTIONS? WHY? Yes, changes to dining policies caused me to live at home rather than on campus during COVID online classes. All of the dorms are the same in regards to policies for food restrictions: there are none unless you specifically try to set some up with your RA
WHAT'S YOUR ADVICE FOR MANAGING THE DINING HALLS WITH YOUR FOOD RESTRICTIONS? FAVORITE DINING HALL(S)? ANY DINING HALLS TO AVOID? Don't get scared away from contacting dining services by their terrible website, information about how to contact them about allergies is there just hard to find. Meet with dining services as early as possible (BEFORE the semester starts) and take them up on the offer of a tour of one of the dining halls. Sister Maureen is generally very helpful and responsive. I think the dining halls are mostly the same when it comes to food allergies, but 251 will always have fewer allergy friendly options since it has less options overall.
WHAT'S YOUR ADVICE FOR EATING IN THE DORM WITH YOUR FOOD RESTRICTIONS? FAVORITE SNACKS? PLACES THAT DELIVER? Be very careful about the kitchens, especially in the lounges, there are tons of opportunities for cross contamination but you can do some basic stuff like heating up microwave meals decently safely. Bring a mini fridge and snacks plus stuff for simple meals like peanut butter sandwiches for when you don't feel like going to the dining halls. There are plenty of places that are on doordash and similar apps, but I only know of a few that are celiac friendly and I honestly have no idea how getting food delivered in the dorms works anyways. Basically don't count on relying on delivery.
WHAT DO YOU RECOMMEND NEW STUDENTS WITH FOOD RESTRICTIONS DO BEFORE SCHOOL STARTS? OR WHEN THEY FIRST ARRIVE? I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to contact dining services BEFORE coming to campus. They get overwhelmed with new students with allergies at the beginning of each year, so you'll get quicker and more personalized responses if you talk to them before. Plus then you won't have to worry about how dining will work while you're settling in to college
WHAT'S YOUR ADVICE ON MANAGING THE PARTY SCENE WITH YOUR FOOD RESTRICTIONS? I haven't partied a whole lot, but in general unless you know the person who's hosting and they know how to accommodate you don't expect them to have celiac safe stuff, even alcohol. On a bit more of the social side of things, a lot of clubs have club dinners and parties and in that case don't be afraid to bring your restrictions up in the planning process to see if you can work out a way to participate fully, whether by going to a restaurant you can eat at or by you bringing some of your own stuff to a party. If people/groups give you a really hard time about it and refuse to even try to include you fully, that's a good sign you should consider if it's in your best interest to keep hanging out with them. Finally, with people you're going to be partying/hanging out with a lot, don't be afraid to nicely tell them if something they did to accommodate you still isn't safe for you. You don't want to put yourself in unsafe situations regularly just to not rock the boat, if they tried in the first place they most likely really want you to be included and will do it right from then on.
GRADE YOUR COLLEGE TOWN AREA FOR FEEDING PEOPLE WITH YOUR FOOD RESTRICTIONS C-
EXPLAIN YOUR GRADE. WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITE PLACES TO EAT IN TOWN OR FOODSHOP? College Park is a food desert, so it's pretty bad at feeding those without food restrictions and worse at feeding those with them. The closest grocery stores are Whole Foods and Lidl, but they're still pretty far away and hard to get to. Whole Foods has a lot more options especially for gluten free food, but it's far more expensive, while Lidl is very affordable but has far fewer options and their gluten free bread is unfortunately terrible. Basically you either have to rely mostly on naturally gluten free foods or pay a lot more money. Don't expect to be able to get a lot of convenience meals. For restaurants, there are actually a good number, there are just potential issues with getting there depending on where you live (on campus or off). There are 4 restaurants in Stamp that should be celiac safe with the right precautions, although I personally haven't tried one of them. There is one near the Whole Foods that is a bit fancier but has tons of gf options. Immediately to the south of campus there are a bunch of restaurants, including Nando's, Cava, Chipotle, and Five Guys. My favorite place in that area is Seoul Spice, which is dedicated gf and sells a (very limited) selection of treats from a gf bakery in DC.
ANYTHING ELSE YOU WOULD LIKE TO ADD? No
Food Allergy and Celiac College Student Survey submitted January 2020
Describe your food restrictions by checking all relevant boxes
Grade your college on feeding students with your food restrictions
Explain your rationale for that grade
I go to the back of the kitchen and a chef makes me whatever I want separately to ensure it is gluten free
What stage are you in college?
How many years ago were you diagnosed with food allergies or celiac disease?
Please use this space to provide details that would help us better understand your food restrictions. Include your reaction if exposed to the foods you are avoiding. Please mention if you carry an epi-pen.
I get very sick including headaches and stomach problems if I eat any gluten
If you indicated that you have celiac disease or are gluten intolerant, how sensitive are you to gluten?
Very: React to small amounts
Does your college handle food restrictions as you expected they would when you selected your school?
Somewhat what I expected
Check all boxes that apply to your college experience
My school has only a few dining halls, Ability to feed me is fairly consistent across dining halls, I feel safe eating at any dining hall on campus, I have sufficient options at all of the dining halls, I assumed they could feed me and didn't think about it before I arrived
Have you had a reaction from eating in your dining hall?
Please describe your meal plan for each year there so far. Include if your school required any of these decisions. If you are eating in a greek house or other club type arrangement include that as well.
Freshman year a dining plan is required and I have unlimited swipe access to any dining hall on campus
Did you register your food restrictions with your student disabilities office for accommodations? If yes, describe.
Are there resources (nutritionists, chefs, peer support groups) to help ensure you are receiving safe nutritious food? If yes, describe.
Yes, the chefs meet with all students who have food restrictions and prepare the food separately
If you were in charge of your school's dining, what changes would you implement to better feed students with your food restrictions? Would your school be open to these suggestions?
Have allergen food ready faster so I wouldn’t have to wait 20 minutes every time I want to eat
Describe your biggest challenge with managing your food restrictions at college and how you deal with it
I have to wait a long time for my food to be ready so if I am in a rush I will eat something from the gluten free freezer
Did your food restrictions impact your housing decision? How? Is there a certain dorm you recommend for those with food restrictions? Why?
What's your advice for managing the dining halls with your food restrictions? Favorite dining hall(s)? Any dining halls to avoid?
All of the dining halls have staff there to assist you
What's your advice for eating in the dorm with your food restrictions? Favorite snacks? Places that deliver?
Having a mini fridge is great to store foods such as peanut butter, yogurt, etc.
What do you recommend new students with food restrictions do before school starts? Or when they first arrive?
Call the dietitians office to let them know you have a food restriction and they will take care of you
What's your advice on managing the party scene with your food restrictions?
Be very careful of what you are drinking to make sure there is no hidden gluten
Grade your college town area for feeding people with your food restrictions
Explain your grade. What are your favorite places to eat in town or foodshop?
I love playa bowls (they have gluten free granola), cava, and sweetgreen
Anything else you would like to add?