Students with food allergies can look to Disability Support Services (DSS) to help them find food that is safe for them to eat on campus.
According to Angela Millman, the director of DSS, no one is required to register with DSS. However, if a student does register, DSS can then communicate with Gourmet Dining Services (GDS) about the student’s food restrictions. Millman said GDS can then suggest to students what to eat or provide special options like dairy-free yogurt or gluten-free bread.
“I believe that since food allergies may impose a safety risk, it is especially important to register with DSS so that the university is informed,” Millman said via email.
Millman added that food allergy registration has only been possible for a couple of years, and only a few students with food allergies register with DSS each year.
Students with Celiac disease have limited options at campus eateries. Celiac disease causes an immune reaction to the digestion of gluten that damages the small intestine, according to the Celiac Disease Foundation’s website.
According to Beyond Celiac, a non-profit that raises awareness of Celiac disease, an estimated 1 in 313 Americans have the disease.
Michael Garcia, director of Business Affairs, said in an email interview that students who register with DSS are referred to GDS’s Registered Dietitian, Jennifer Bostedo. Garcia said Bostedo gives a tour of the dining options on campus, which should leave the student with an understanding of how to achieve maximum nutrition, where there are safe and unsafe foods, and how to get dining help daily.
Isabella Hansen, a senior social and behavioral science major, was diagnosed with Celiac disease after she moved off-campus. Not having a meal plan, she said in an email interview that the specified gluten-free food in the Cove is “gross” and “has been sitting in the fridge too long.”
Hansen said she also did not want to ask the school for help because she did not think they would do anything to assist her.
Karissa Delphus, a junior nursing major, is a commuter but lived on campus her freshman and sophomore year. She said via email when she was diagnosed with Celiac disease about a year ago, she was referred to a nutritionist through the school.
The nutritionist guided Delphus through the cafeteria to show her foods she could and could not eat due to her disease. The nutritionist was unsure about whether some foods had gluten in them, like ice cream and salad dressings, Delphus said. She added that her diet in the cafeteria mostly consisted of fruit and vegetables in the fridge that is specifically designated for gluten free foods.
Delphus said the nutritionist told her to contact them with questions, but she never got a reply to her emails and instead was sent a monthly newsletter about Celiac disease.
“To be honest,” she said, “I just want to know if I can eat the damn sausage at breakfast.”
Delphus said she thinks the workers in the cafeteria may not have been trained on how to handle allergies. She said she has asked workers to change gloves or provide foil so she could cook her gluten-free wrap in the quesadilla maker without cross-contamination. Some workers thought it was funny that she needed it.
Sarah Yenesel can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.