Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Choosing a College: The Most Important Question to Ask When You Have Food Allergies

Within the next few months, high school seniors across the country will be deciding where to apply to college and submitting applications. There are many factors to consider – location, curriculum, size, etc. And for those with food allergies, add food to that list.

It’s been a few years since my son applied to college, and a couple since he graduated. We asked a lot of questions before he made the decision to apply early decision at his top choice, but there’s one question that stands out as being key:

Where does your food come from?

In at least one of the college cafeterias (most will have more than one) you want to find kitchen staff that actually cooks.

Many cafeterias outsource their food service to vendors; avoid these, if you can. It’s impossible for the kitchen to know what’s really in the food (or how it was handled) if they are opening vats and dumping them into bins.

Ideally, you’d like to find a cafeteria where the staff actually makes the food. They are far more likely to be able to adapt meals and dramatically more likely to be able to accurately tell you the ingredients (and even show you labels).

If you can, eat there during your college visit (pick a busy time) and watch how the staff handles your requests. Does the chef come out to talk to you? Will they bring you a plate directly from the kitchen rather than expecting you to go through the food line (where contamination can occur)? And most important, can the chef tell you what’s really in the food and how it was prepared?

Best of luck to all of the #foodallergy seniors!


Gratefulfoodie said...

Good advice! We are in the college application stage over here in the Moassessi household. We did notice a few schools on my son's list that do cook their food. Hum.... good food for thought. Tell me that we'll survive this application process right? The hardest part is the food allergies. The rest feels almost trivial in a very odd way. Thanks for sharing.

Colette said...

Caroline, you will survive. But oh my, it has gotten complicated, hasn't it? Even without the food allergy concerns, it's so much more than difficult than it used to be. The worst part is the waiting. Oh wait, the worst part is deciding after you get the responses. Or both...