Hello Everyone!! I just want to give you all a heads up on an experience I had this fall. I am 18 years old and was really excited about attending college as a new freshman at my "dream school", away from home (a school that is known as one of the healthiest school in the midwest). My parents and I spent a lot of time talking with people at the school and making sure that things would go smoothly for me, as both my parents and I were really nervous for me to go.
We met with the Director of Food Services, the Dietician on campus, the Director of Student Life, and about a million other people that repeatedly assured my parents and I that I would "eat better on campus than at home". They said that they have had students before with celiac, that all of their kitchen staff knows about a gluten-free diet, that food would not be an issue at all!
Well, I got to school and there was nothing. No one knew anything about a gluten free diet. They had no food for me except gluten-free Salad Dressing and gluten-free Pasta Sauce (minus the noodles). I spent my entire first week on campus starving and extremely home sick because of my experiences. Consequently, I spent at least a few hours every day speaking with staff and many of the people I had spoken with previously. I gave them a week and a half to get their act together but there was still nothing for me to eat after that time passed, forcing my parents to take trips down to see me with gluten-free food.
After much thought, I unfortunately had to drop out of school because I was getting too sick to function from malnutrition and all of the stress that this situation was causing me. I really want to make sure that future college students and their families are well-prepared for the challenges of being a celiac AND a college student.
So, I do have some recommendations:
Contact everyone you can think of at your school and Make a Plan....and do it in writing.
Make a list of food items that you would like and give it to them in advance. This way, they can at least get a few items for you for when you arrive.
Register with your school's Disability Office (They Were EXTREMELY Helpful for me)
Try to get into apartment style dorms if available...A Clean Kitchen would make a big difference
Lastly, Make sure that your roommate(s) know about your celiac and are understanding of your gluten-free diet
Good Luck to All Future College Students and Parent & Please Feel Free to Contact Me With Questions~!