Friday, March 28, 2014

College and Food Allergies

This is the time of year when college decisions are being made, and it's tougher when food allergies are in the picture. 
   When our family-- that is my son-- was looking at schools we decided-- he decided--that food allergies would take a back seat to what school was the best fit: academically, socially, location and so on. 
  That decision was a good one, as was his choice of school; he's happy and thriving. 
  As for the food experience all the ahead- of- time due diligence and communication was not enough. The school was just not prepared for food allergic students-- though they thought they were. 
  But we found ways to make the food  work. And, I want to note that there were some folks -- nutritionists, dining admins and staff--who tried to be helpful, though the gap was wide between the promise and the execution. 
  But, as all food allergic families do, we found ways to make it work. Or my son did. He had a micro fridge. ( yes a microwave and refrigerator in one-- standard issue by vendors who service colleges). And he got lots of care packages. And once his RA made cookies for him-- I sent the mix. And every couple if days my son went to the store to get cold cuts, beans, baking potatoes, rice cakes etc. And the list of his personal accommodations goes on and on. 
   For us, choosing a school was not only about food allergies-- and he picked a great and the right place for him. 
And honestly, as we all know, life is often not a straight and smooth road. One has to find a balance. 
Happy spring.  


  1. Great post and glad it all worked out. What were some of the gaps that occurred between the promises and the execution so those of us with high school seniors can be on the lookout for similar issues. Is there anything you would do differently if you could do it over again? Thanks! m

    1. When visiting, have your child try the dining halls-- walk through, see what's in the stations, ask if teen would be comfortable eating there.
      Check who are the people to talk with when your child selects that school.
      I would have done more follow up in the weeks leading up to drop off.
      And generally look for how food is served and how it is labeled and how much attention the staff pays-- which may vary by time if day-- to keeping utensils separate etc.