Teens in the Real World
  Food Allergies in the Real World  

Choosing a College

By Ryan, age 18.

I toured various colleges last summer, and picked a couple to pursue further. One of the colleges where I interviewed displayed remarkable dedication and understanding of food allergies. After the interview, I went over to the dining hall for a planned meeting with the cafeteria managers. One of them spoke to my parents, and the other spoke directly with me. After an enlightening discussion about how they would accommodate my food allergies, they told me we could work together.

The dining staff and student employees are trained in food allergies and cross-contact, and there is a planned emergency response if a student suffers a reaction. The managers brought lots of information to the meeting, including a sample of the menu they create for each dietary restriction. A menu would be created specifically for my soy and peanut allergies. They also prepare and freeze meals in advance to suit individual diets, and they can make box lunches if a student with a dietary restriction is going off campus for the day. There is even a toaster designated “gluten-free” for students who have celiac disease.

To further demonstrate their ability to work with food allergies, the managers invited us to lunch. I was treated to a beef stir-fry dinner served on rice. I could not finish my meal because I am not accustomed to the taste of spicy foods. But, it was allergen-free and delicious.

Living with food allergies during college will not be easy, but I am always ready to take care of myself if I have a reaction. The people I have met on campus visits appear willing to help me know what food is safe to eat. I am looking forward to finding a home away from home.


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