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Beth in NC

Celiac In The University Setting

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My son is a Junior at NC State University. He has lived off campus his entire college experience thus far so hasn't had too much difficulty. But it has been a challenge none the less. He wants to meet with the "higher ups" and attempt to get some changes made and some gluten-free awareness there on campus for other students, because he knows they are out there.

Do ANY of you have any stories, experiences, etc of similar situation where people worked on the ground level to get things changed like this? I would appreciate anything you can offer to help.

Thank you.

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When I was in college, I was not gluten-free. But I taught/attended a university once gluten-free. The most important suggestion I would make is that he make an appt to met with the head of Dining Services. I believe that celiac does fall under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and that universities must, in some way, accommodate it.

I know some universities have "accommodated" it by not requiring students to buy the meal plan, but others have embraced it and tried to offer a gluten-free option at every meal. The university I taught at did this after students approached the head of Dining Services.

If he can put up flyers around campus and try to get in touch with others on campus who have celiac, then maybe they can meet as a group. Power in numbers!

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Do ANY of you have any stories, experiences, etc of similar situation where people worked on the ground level to get things changed like this? I would appreciate anything you can offer to help.

Thank you.

I work for a university and am vocal about my gluten-free needs whenever there's a function going on. Not quite the same as for a student, but anyone who works for a college or university can be a change-agent. Our campus has an on-campus caterer who does both the student food services, and the catering for staff and faculty functions. I suppose that means I might be bringing some education to those who feed students. Unfortunately, what I'm getting is really disgusting food - yes, gluten free, but very disgusting. Last Friday I was at a conference and the lunch was greens with chicken breast and fresh peppers, asparagus, and other greens. They had ordered 8 vegetarian meals and 2 gluten-free meals (didn't see who got the other one). The vegetarians got the salad with tofu instead of chicken, the gluten-free ones were salad and tofu (why do they always assume we're vegetarians?). However, the gluten-free ones had no salad dressing and had obviously been made in the morning and sat under heat lamps. GRODY. Wilty greens and no salad dressing. I asked about the dressing and they said they weren't sure of the ingredients. Grrr.

I really should know better by now and bring my own food, but 2 years ago they didn't even have gluten-free options. Of course I complained, but their reaction was typical - they were very concerned for my health and wanted to give me the safest lunch possible. Like they were saints or something! My letter to the department reflected my disappointment and how much the lunch made me gag.

If your son's campus has an on-site food service provider - I urge him to go see the director of that department. It pays to confront the system directly. People want to keep you safe and are most likely willing to give you safe food - even if it's just salad at first. Baby steps.

I hope you get other suggestions about a movement. I can only do my part because I don't know a lot of celiacs. The kids here are so young - and most people aren't diagnosed until much later.

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