With food allergies, “most college campuses are in the beginning stages of creating systems, structures and policies that provide comprehensive supports, safeguard against accidental ingestions, systematically train key stakeholders in emergency preparedness protocols, and make stock epinephrine widely accessible,” says Dr. Ruchi Gupta. The pediatrician at Lurie Children’s Hospital presented her team’s research at the 2016 American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology meeting in San Francisco.
The research team interviewed a variety of people involved in campus life in the Chicago area. These included students with food allergies, their caregivers, those involved in athletics and clubs, food services, health services and management.
Participants noted a need for an approach to dealing with food allergies that spans the campus, not just one area.
Colleges Lack Food Allergy Aid in Sports, Dorms
“Our study found that while many colleges offer support for students with food allergy in the dining hall, the same support doesn’t carry over to organized sports, dormitories or social events,” says Gupta.
Communicating the needs of a student managing food allergy was also proving burdensome. “Parents tell us they need to educate everyone, literally everyone. From professors, to other students, the librarian and the person putting food on your kid’s plate,” says Gupta. “Overwhelmingly, the respondents indicated that the burden of the disease was placed on the individuals and families when transitioning to college.”
The authors said students indicated they are willing to work with school officials to educate other students and administrators. As well, the students’ peers told researchers that peer training, awareness (through signage, etc.) and increased epinephrine access would be most helpful.