Starting Your Search for Colleges When You Have Food Allergies

If you’ve decided to go to college in spite of having food allergies, there are some crucial concerns to address right off the bat.

When you have food allergies, college is an enormous and difficult undertaking. But it can certainly be done, providing you are prepared and objective.

QUESTIONS YOU NEED TO ASK

“Can the dining services on campus meet my needs safely?”
Finding out what kind of allergen accommodations exist in the dining halls are the first step.

“Are the people on staff in the kitchen aware of cross-contamination and able to prevent it?”
You may have to do some digging to get a reasonable answer to this question, but it is vital you ask a few different people, with different perspectives on the issue.

“What options are there outside the dining halls?”
This refers to off-campus meals, preparing your own food, etc.

“Can I request a roommate who has similar restrictions?”
This is a VERY important question to ask. If you can’t request a specific person, try to make this generalization.

QUESTIONS FOR YOUR ROOMMATE

IF THEY HAVE FOOD ALLERGIES . . .

“How long have you lived with allergies?”
This will give you an idea of their mindset when it comes to managing their own condition.

“Are you willing to keep (specific foods) out of our dorm room?”
This is vital. The more food you keep out of your dorm, the better.

“How do you manage your allergy in your daily life?”
Again, just to give you an idea of how they handle their allergies. The more careful they are with their own allergy, the more careful they will be with yours.

Come up with other questions specific to your situation, as well. Your and your roommate need to have each other’s backs.

QUESTIONS FOR YOUR ROOMMATE

IF THEY DO NOT HAVE ALLERGIES . . .

“How familiar are you with food allergies?”
(i.e. the seriousness, the severity, the management thereof, etc.)

“Are you willing to keep (specific foods) out of our dorm room?”

“Are you willing to learn what you’ll need to know in the event of a serious allergic reaction?”
They’ll need to know what to do in the event of an emergency. You’ll also need to educate them on what to look for in a reaction and when to take action.

“Are you willing to work with me as I learn how to better manage these allergies in college?”
This is important as well. You need to know that he/she is going to be flexible enough to work with you, because your initial management plan may be adapted as you go along.

Also, if you need to reach out to Disability Services on campus, please do so. It may not be necessary, but if it is, it could help you enormously in thriving on campus.

I want you to read this article from Allergic Living. It is a much more comprehensive look at the issue than I’ve written here, because it was written by an allergy mom who’s been through it.

What are your thoughts or questions on this topic? Let me know!

Also, sorry if there are typos. I was studying for two hours before this, so . . . yeah. 😋

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