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By Beth Hillson

This time of year, rising high school juniors and seniors are starting to visit college campuses as they consider where they would like to spend the next four years.  In addition to curriculum, size, and geographical location, students who have celiac disease or are gluten sensitive also have to consider if campus food service can accommodate their diet.  Read on to see if your college prospects make the grade.

I interview Rob Landolphi, Manager of Culinary Development at the University of Connecticut.  Rob instituted a gluten-free dining option in all the campus dining facilities beginning in 2002.  (UCONN was voted the #1for gluten-free-friendly campus on UDI’s web site this year.)

Here are some of Rob’s tips to consider when you are looking at colleges:

  • Contact Dining Services or Residential Life directly.  (The name of the office will vary from college to college.)
  • Ask how they handle gluten-free diets.
  • Ask to set up a tour of the dining hall and the kitchen.
  • If their guard goes up or if they seem hesitant, be wary.
  • If they show you the kitchen and serve you a gluten-free lunch, that should put your mind at ease.
  • Ask if the college offers gluten-free foods in all the dining facilities. If not, find out how far the gluten-free dining hall is from your dorm and the buildings where you will be taking most of your classes.
  • Check the hours of operations.
  • Find out if gluten-free food is prepared in a designated area.
  • Does the college label all the food so it’s not necessary to locate a chef each time you eat in the dining hall?
  • Does the dining hall have a gluten-free zone?
  • Can you eat in the same area as your friends or is gluten-free food only served in a separate dining room?
  • What gluten-free brands are used?  Are they willing to bring in other brands?
  • What happens if you don’t like the option for that day?  Can you order something else?
  • Can you call ahead and order food?
  • Is there a web site where you can find out the options for the day?
  • Does the gluten-free option cost more money or is it included in meal plan?  (It should be included.)
  • What restaurants near campus have gluten-free choices?  Do they deliver?  (For times when your friends are ordering out and you don’t want to be left out.)
  • Ask to speak with a student who has been taking the gluten-free option.  Chances are at least one or two have offered to serve as a resource.

Reprinted with permission from Complete Guide to Living Well Gluten Free, by Beth Hillson, 2014, page 248.