Choosing a School
You want to get the most out of your college years, academically and socially—just like any other student. Attending a school with a strong food allergy policy and supportive staff can make all the difference.
Before you decide on a college or university, do your research, visit the school and ask questions. Learn as much as you can about how each college helps students manage their food allergies.
As with so many other situations involving food allergies, planning and communication are key. But as thousands of students with food allergies can confirm, it's well worth the effort.
Whether you already have your short list of colleges or you’re just starting your search, check out the FARE Food Allergy College Search.This is the nation’s only comprehensive source of food allergy accommodations for colleges and universities. This tool can give you even more confidence as you plan to head off to your next adventure.
Browse schools and learn about their food allergy accommodations and policies. Use this information to narrow down and evaluate your prospective school list.
Don't see a school you're interested in? Share the tool and ask them to join!
Students with food allergies may be protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). This means that accommodations for your food allergies should fall under the school’s disability services office.
This is the first department you should approach on campus. Some schools even require that you file information about your food allergy with this office, once you are enrolled.
Meet with the staff to discuss your needs and what documentation the school might need to accommodate you.
Remember: Food allergies may be a new topic for some disability services staff. While schools might not give you all the answers you want to hear, most will be willing to work with you to keep you safe and included. Be patient and willing to work with the school to find solutions that work for both sides.
As a student with food allergies, you’ll have a lot of interaction with the dining services department. That’s why it’s important to speak with them directly. Even if disability services handles your dining accommodations, it's important to develop a two-way relationship with the people actually preparing the food.
If you're thinking about applying to a particular college, be sure to arrange a meeting or conversation with the food services director. Reach out to the registered dietitian, chef or manager to introduce yourself and get started. Then tour the dining facilities during normal operating hours to see for yourself how they handle food service.
Remember: You will need to identify and disclose your food allergies to the dining services department. They can’t troubleshoot issues or improve their accommodations if they don’t know what you need.
Do you want to live in a dorm? Or would you be more comfortable in an apartment that offers a full kitchen (either on campus or off)?
If you plan to live on campus, housing services is another department that will have a big impact on your experience. Each student’s housing needs may vary, so think about any housing accommodations you’ll need ahead of time.
Have an initial meeting or conversation with campus housing and resident life. Discuss how to best manage your food allergies in that school's dorm setting.
Remember: The answer to some of your questions and requests may not be what you want to hear. Have a backup plan in place, and be prepared to educate and advocate for yourself.
Consult with the director of the campus health clinic. Discuss their protocols and experience in treating allergic reactions.
Learn the location of the nearest hospital. It's also a good idea to get in touch with the local EMS provider and ask if your contact information can be stored in its database.
What to Read Next
You’ll reap the most benefits from your meetings with disability services, dining services and other departments by writing down your questions in advance. Get started with this list.