Canadian Universities Checklist
– Start the school search early, since more time and effort are required when reviewing colleges and universities for both programs and allergy-friendly policies.
– As a first step, check the dining sections of the universities’ websites. Often there will be a page that talks about food allergies and gives contact information for the food services manager or dietitian.
– Allergic Living recommends visiting potential institutions before making a decision. Find out if there’s a disabilities office and if the institution makes accommodations for food allergies and celiac disease. If so, what medical information is required? Also arrange to meet a dietitian or food services director.
– Ask lots of questions: how well trained are staff on food allergies or the gluten-free diet and avoiding cross-contamination? Is ingredient information available in the dining hall? Are there special allergen practices in the kitchen? Are customized meals available?
– Check for online menus: some universities post them in full, including ingredient information. Are there adequate safe options?
– Pose questions on housing: Are rooms with kitchens available? Can a student bring or rent a microwave or mini-fridge? Requesting a single room may be best to avoid a roommate who doesn’t ‘get it’.
– Once accepted, a student needs to follow-up with the disabilities office and food services manager or dietitian about specific needs. A recurring complaint from universities is that students don’t always communicate that they have allergies. Staff can’t help if they don’t know.
– Once on campus, it’s essential for the student to speak up – whether it’s to confirm ingredients or ask if a dining staff member has changed gloves.
– Inform roommates of allergies or celiac disease. If allergic, carry your auto-injector at all times.