Preparing for college

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Can anyone provide information on how they or their child dealt with food allergies at college? My son is anaphylactically allergic to milk among other things, so expecting a cafeteria to be able to cook for him doesn't seem realistic to us.

Has anyone had a positive experience with these more pervasive allergens (egg, milk, wheat) at a school? Or did you or your child just live off-campus and cook?

On Jan 16, 2007

I know JanaR's son is MA as well as PA, and he is/was in college.

Peg's son also successfully navigates college with a severe PA. He even did a semester abroad!! [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]

On Jan 16, 2007

I stayed home for undergrad both because of financial issues and because of allergies.

But I went away for grad school, and I did live in an apartment style residence--I shared a kitchen with three other women. While sharing a kitchen was stressful, I didn't have any reactions which weren't attributed to ingredients I was responsible for adding to my own cooking.

One of my roommates also had allergies---she brought a bar fridge with her. She didn't put any of her food in the common fridge.

It would be difficult to live in a dorm and have to cook for oneself---but I wonder if it would be doable if the residence would allow allergic students to bring a bar fridge, microwave, hotplate. Rice cookers with vegetable steamers might also be handy.

On Jan 16, 2007

There are some links posted here [url="http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/Forum24/HTML/000184.html"]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/Forum24/HTML/000184.html[/url] about how some universities accommodate food allergies (some of the links might be outdated so use the beginning part of each URL to access the particular college and search for food allergies).

The University where my son began attending last September (third generation - the same school my husband and I and both my parents attended) does NOT accommodate food allergies - they even put that in writing:

[url="http://www.hfs.washington.edu/uploadedFiles/Student_Housing/Residence_Halls/Residence_Hall_Handbook/RHhdbkAUT06.pdf"]http://www.hfs.washington.edu/uploadedFi...RHhdbkAUT06.pdf[/url]

and go to page 11 of the document to find "Food Allergy Policy" [i]Food Allergy Policy

Students with minor to moderate food intolerances may be accommodated by working with Food Service chefs in either residence hall location: Eleven 01 or 8 at McMahon. The chefs will be able to advise students of the ingredients used to prepare various menu items and suggest items that might meet their dietary needs and thus, enable students to make choices that will work for them.

[b]We are unable to accommodate students with severe and acute food allergies.[/b][/i]

I had been in contact with them for three years prior since my son has always wanted to go there and I knew he would not have any problem being accepted there. This was the first year they had a written food allergy policy. (It's hard for me not to wonder if it was aimed at my son's situation)

However my son wanted to live on campus with other freshman so they are requiring him to pay for board. Even though they said they can't accommodate his food allergies they still require him to pay board if he wants to live in the freshmen facilities. They either want him segregated from his peers or they want those with food allergies to pay for something they can not use. We have given it a quarter to see if he could find enough convenience foods at the dorm convenience store to spend this mandated expense. But there are just not very many processed foods free of milk, eggs, peanuts, treenuts, shellfish, coconut and mollusks. We have spent our own money on stocking the appliances we purchased (mini refigerator, mini freezer, convection/microwave oven) even though they would never ask those requiring Braille books or wheelchair ramps to pay for their accommodations so that they may participate in campus life.

I'm a little overwhelmed with "taking on" a large university but have had brief contacts with Chris Weiss, and the Department of Justice since not accommodating by at least not requiring us to pay for a service they don't provide (we've never asked for them to figure out a way for them to make the dorm food safe for him so that he can eat with his friends) seems to be a violation of the Fair Housing Act. But we haven't gotten very far with this yet.

Sigh

Good luck.

------------------ Jana

[url="http://www.seattlefoodallergy.org"]www.seattlefoodallergy.org[/url]

On Jan 16, 2007

My son is finishing college this year. He's lived in the dorms all four years but they banned peanuts from both dorms associated with his program.

The cafeteria did not do much to make it easy for him to eat there so he picks and chooses once he makes it past the open vat of PB.

I would say your son would do better living off campus in an apartment, or even in a campus apartment if they have them. My son is not allergic to milk but I can see how that makes it even harder.

For sure once he meets people he'll find roommates for next year or the second semester but maybe you can start looking at the ads the students hang up for roommates. I'll bet the college can help you there too.

The college experience is so important for guys I would make sure he goes. But I would hestitate to encourage a university outside of your state. Our son luckily is only 90 miles away. Our daughter stayed close to home also.

Good luck Peggy

[This message has been edited by Peg541 (edited January 16, 2007).]

On Jan 16, 2007

I've mentioned to him about living in an apartment and he is reluctantly thinking about it. He really wanted the experience of living on campus with the other freshmen. And I think he'd like to stay on campus at least for his sophomore year as well. He's bummed about eating by himself in his dorm room but he doesn't dwell on it - he gets to live in the dorms like the other students get to. We just don't think we should have to pay board for meals they can't provide for him on top of paying for the safe food that he prepares on his own and eats by himself. He just wants to live with his peers.

------------------ Jana

[url="http://www.seattlefoodallergy.org"]www.seattlefoodallergy.org[/url]

On Jan 16, 2007

Quote:

Originally posted by Jana R

However my son wanted to live on campus with other freshman so they are requiring him to pay for board. Even though they said they can't accommodate his food allergies they still require him to pay board if he wants to live in the freshmen facilities.[/B]

What!?! That's outrageous.

Three thoughts here (besides 'sue the university'!) [which may be expensive and time consuming])---first, has your son looked into registering with disability services? (I have no idea how things work in US universities, but in Canada, he could definitely be considered to have a 'disability'. Students with disabilities have access to disability counsellors who can advocate on your son's behalf.

Second---if your son has any smaller classes where he gets to know his profs., and if any of them seem sympathetic, he can always ask about how best to go about protesting this.

Third option--write letters to the editor. Universities hate getting bad press.

On Mar 7, 2007

We just found out yesterday that we will be reimbursed for the board payments we had to make that DS can not use to buy meals!

WOOOHOOOO!!!

When Chris Weiss from FAAN wrote me back when I updated him on my son's accommodation, he said, "Amazing how sometimes rational thought wins out." We never thought asking exemption from the meal plan was asking too much but initially, the university did. We're going to let someone else dealing with only one allergy try to make this university provide safe meals for severe food allergies.

Quote:

Originally posted by LisaM: [b] What!?! That's outrageous.

has your son looked into registering with disability services? (I have no idea how things work in US universities, but in Canada, he could definitely be considered to have a 'disability'. Students with disabilities have access to disability counsellors who can advocate on your son's behalf.

[/b]

We have been dealing with the office of disability services since last summer - my son appears to be the first one who wanted to live in Freshman facilities that had multiple food allergies so there was no precedence about what a reasonable accommodation would be.

------------------ Jana

[url="http://www.seattlefoodallergy.org"]www.seattlefoodallergy.org[/url]

[This message has been edited by Jana R (edited March 07, 2007).]

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