College and Food Allergies

College and Food Allergies

by Elyse Hahne

Excitement is in the air as college is in the mind of many high school seniors. The thought of high school almost over is a huge accomplishment and college seems so far away. Being away from parents is just an idea and then BOOM! It hits you like a brick wall. College and food allergies. On a college campus. In a dorm and the food to eat. Going away from your safe zone is downright scary, and food allergies cause graduates and parents to be weak in the knees. I’ve been there and know it’s downright scary. Fortunately, I had a wonderful college experience with food allergies and hope these tips help you adjust to life at a college campus and in the dorm!

Start early! For me, I made contact the spring/summer before my freshman year. I contacted dining services and met with them the week of New Student Orientation. We devised a plan and it worked for my time in college. Having the food allergic adult do the talking is huge. Advocate for yourself.

Have a point of contact at every meal. This was huge for me. At each meal, I had a manager or head of food services to turn to if I had a question. Miss Bobbie, the greeter, made sure everything was all right at breakfast and lunch. She went above and beyond for me. If I did have questions, I had someone to go to.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Food is a threat for those with food allergies. While most do not have to question everything that goes into their mouth, you do. Don’t be afraid to ask those tough questions about food labels and manufacturing. I can tell you there was a book I was able to look at. Thankfully, I can honestly say, I never reacted to any of the cafeteria food or portable food on campus. I asked questions and had a list of safe foods that were always safe for me. While a huge blessing, it was a huge feat as well. I asked those important questions about food safety and ingredients. I asked when unsure and for peace of mind.

Have a plan in place! Having people know your Food Allergy Action plan is huge in the event of an accidental ingestion or accident. Don’t be afraid to speak up.

Keep you safe, and enjoy college!