Julie asks, “How can my child with food allergies get what she needs from her college’s cafeterias? Are they required to have allergy-safe options?
Julie, I went through the same thing when we sent my daughter off to college! For many food allergic young people, college may be the first time they are fully responsible for managing their own food allergies. Helping them think about planning ahead and learning about their food options, as well as encouraging them to seek support from others, will go a long way to keep their college experiences safe and healthy.
When applying for colleges, it is important to review the policies and procedures at each school, as these policies will vary. Some questions to ask Dining Services are:
How do you accommodate students with food allergies?
Will I be required to live on campus in order to eat in the dining halls?
Can we tour the dining halls before I commit to the school? (see how they operate during normal hours)
Has the dining staff undergone good allergy training, including recognizing anaphylaxis?
What are your emergency procedures in your dining facilities?
What steps does your staff take to avoid food cross-contact?
Is there someone we can meet with who will serve as my daily contact?
How can we access allergen information and ingredient lists for each menu?
If you and your teen would like additional information regarding the many aspects of preparing for a safe and healthy college experience, please contact me. I’ve got a lot of resources!