Gluten free colleges and universities

Our older son will be choosing a college soon and embarking on the next chapter of his life in the Fall. While he does not have Celiac -- and no dietary restrictions that we know of -- our younger son (currently a sophomore) does. While it is still over two years from the start of college for him, we all know how quickly the time goes, and before we know it, he will be in the throes of evaluating what colleges to apply to. My hope has always been that he would be able to go to any of the colleges he is accepted into -- without worrying about the gluten free scene on campus. While I'm not sure we are completely "there" yet, I am encouraged by the progress colleges across the country have made regarding providing gluten free options for their Celiac and gluten sensitive students. (The settlement agreement between the United States of America and Lesley University in Massachusetts back in 2012 regarding students with food allergies, helped. The Justice Department expanded the definition of "disability" to include food allergies, and said all students must enjoy reasonable access to dining facilities trained on allergen and food safety... Read more →

Last month, over the President's Day long weekend, our family ventured down to the Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill area of North Carolina for a hockey tournament with our younger son's team. Typically we head north for tournaments, but this year the team was in the mood for something a bit warmer. And in that department, we lucked out...the temperature hovered right around 72 degrees each day, making it not only a glorious weekend for travel, but a perfect weekend to squeeze in visits to some college campuses for our older son, a sophomore in high school. While it's still a bit early for him to be narrowing his choices for colleges, we've been trying to drive or walk through any campuses in areas we've visited over the past year or so. It's a great opportunity for him to get a feel for big state schools versus smaller private universities, urban campuses versus rural or suburban, and liberal-leaning versus more conservative. Although our older son is not Celiac like our younger son, these campus visits give us a feel for "what's to come" in another few years when our Celiac son begins his own college search. Like other Celiac teens, his decision will... Read more →

Congratulations to Kent State University in Ohio for being the first college to open an entirely gluten free dining hall! Hallelujah! I just hope more colleges follow suit in the coming years. I've been optimistic that our own Celiac son, now 13, will have ample choices when it comes to his big college decision. After all, as a parent, you hope that your child will be able to choose a college based on all the typical criteria (academic reputation, courses of study, location, affordability) and dozens of other personal preferences -- rather than solely based on where they'll be able to eat safely for four years. Granted, more and more colleges have started labeling gluten free choices -- and are even well-versed in how to avoid cross contamination in the preparation of gluten free meals. Others have separate stations for gluten free. But, alas, most colleges still have a long way to go. To hear this news from Kent State sets the bar higher, and, in my opinion, where it should be -- and could be -- at colleges all over the U.S. After all, even at the smallest colleges, there are always multiple dining halls. Why not dedicate one... Read more →

If you're a gluten free high school student starting to look at colleges, you've probably wondered how difficult it will be to maintain your diet over four years at college. While your speical dietary needs aren't the only factor weighing in your college decision, it can be an important part of the decision. After all, you'll be spending four years there, and depending on the college, on-campus dining may be your only option for meals. Fortunately, there are plenty of online resources to help you assess the degree of gluten free friendliness of the colleges you may be considering. A couple years ago we launched a section of our website devoted to Gluten Free College Reviews. Gluten free students have submitted reviews of their colleges' dining services, from a gluten free perspective. Feedback ranges from colleges that offer a limited choice of plain options like grilled chicken or fish, baked potoato, and steamed veggies -- to colleges that give plenty of choices which can even be ordered in advance and ready for you upon your arrival at the dining hall. Perhaps you'll find a review of a college you've been considering. We encourage gluten free college reviewers to share advice... Read more →

Do you like KIND snack bars as much as our family does? Gluten free or not, I think they are hands-down some of the best snack bars on the market. In fact, I published a Blog post not too long ago about their different types of bars -- all of which are incredibly delicious. I love their wide range of flavors, and they keep introducing NEW ones all the time. Hitting stores this week are two new varieties from their popular Nuts & Spices line of bars, which is their line of naturally low sugar bars (5 g or less per bar). One of the new flavors is Maple Glazed Pecan and Sea Salt, a sweet and salty combination of pecans, almonds, and peanuts covered in maple syrup with a touch of sea salt. It contains 5 g of fiber and 6 g of protein. The other new variety -- for all you advernturous chocoholics -- is Dark Chocolate Chili Almond, a sweet and spicy blend of mixed nuts drizzled in chocolate with a trio of cascabel, ancho, and habanero chilies. It provides 7 g of fiber and 6 g of protein -- all with only 5 g of sugar.... Read more →

Julie Bourne, our Gluten Free College Blogger, has returned from her semester studying in Rome and is now back at University of Denver. She shares with us her favorite spots for quick and inexpensive gluten free eats at restaurants and coffee shops around the University. She's reviewed all the places mentioned below in depth on GlutenFreeTravelSite. Simply click on the links below to be taken to her reviews. As my Rome experience has come to its inevitable close, I find myself back in Denver for my return to speaking in English and clocking in some time in class! While it’s been hard for me to get back into the swing of things after such a fantastic time abroad, I’m happier than I can say to be back to my familiar territory. As a busy student, I spend a lot of time studying in coffee shops, grabbing meals to eat on the go, and going out for inexpensive lunches with friends. In the past couple of weeks back in town, I’ve compiled a few new places that I can recommend to my fellow Denver gluten-free diners. As mentioned above, I spend almost an obscene amount of time huddled in cozy coffee... Read more →

This is Julie Bourne's final Blog post from ROME, where she has been studying -- and eating gluten free -- for the semester. She shares with us some of her top restaurant picks...places she can rely on for a safe, gluten free meal in Rome. Stay tuned for her January post, when alas, she returns to her "home base" at the University of Denver. The first reaction that I get when I tell people that I am studying abroad in Rome is always the same: “How can you eat anything there? Don’t they only eat pasta and pizza?” The truth about Italy as a whole is that the vast majority of people who work at restaurants here understand the needs of people with allergies or Celiac Disease. Since Celiac Disease is so prominent in Italy (due to more aggressive efforts in diagnosis than in the U.S.), there is a good chance that your waiter has a sister, friend, parent, or cousin-twice-removed who also has Celiac Disease or “Celiaca” (che-li-aka), so they will do what is necessary to provide you with a safe meal. That does not mean, however, that you can go into any restaurant unprepared. A key phrase to... Read more →

Our "Gluten Free in College" Blogger Julie Bourne joins us this month with a report on the gluten free dining scene in Rome, where she is studying abroad for the semester. Though it seems like I just left Seattle yesterday, I have already been in Rome for nearly a month. Where has the time gone? I now truly understand what people mean when they tell me to “savor every moment” of my abroad experience since it will be over before I know it. I like to think that I’m taking advantage of every day here. I can certainly assure you that I’m taking advantage of the plethora of gluten free foods available! It is a common misconception that Italy -- being the decreed land of pasta and pizza -- would be a miserable place for gluten free eaters, let alone those of us with full blown Celiac Disease. Quite the opposite is true: Italy happens to be one of the best options for gluten free travelers due to the prevalence and general awareness of Celiac Disease throughout the country. Before the age of seven, Italians are tested for a variety of diseases and allergies (Celiac Disease included), so nearly everyone... Read more →

This month, Guest Blogger Julie Bourne of the Campus Celiac departs for a semester studying abroad in Rome. As I find summer coming to its close, I am preparing for my long-anticipated four-month study abroad experience in Rome, Italy. From late August to mid December, I will be studying journalism and marketing at the American University of Rome in the historic Trastevere district of the city. I’m more than just a little excited, to say the least! The decision to study abroad is a big choice that college students may approach at some point in their time at school. Whether it is the time away from home, the differences in culture and language, or the challenge of meeting all new people, it can be tough to commit to spending a semester or a year abroad. For a student with strict food restrictions, the decision to go abroad is taken to another level of difficulty, as it can be intimidating to go somewhere that may have completely different foods and understanding of allergies than what we have in the United States. However, these students should not feel deterred from the prospect of studying abroad. With just a small amount of research,... Read more →

This month, guest blogger Julie Bourne, a rising Junior at the University of Denver and Campus Celiac blogger, shares her advice on the important -- and sometimes overwhelming -- college search process. She advises prospective college students with Celiac or gluten sensitivity on the steps to go through as they begin to consider their top college choices. There is the saying that one must look for the right “fit” when choosing a college. However, selecting a college is not as simple as, say, finding shoes that fit. And for a prospective student with Celiac Disease or gluten sensitivity, this process can prove to be even more daunting. In spite of this, there are several straightforward actions that a gluten free prospective student can take to ensure that they will find the dream college that will give them the happy and healthy experience that they deserve. I would recommend that a gluten free prospective student to start their search without extensively considering their dietary needs. Gather a list of schools that fit your educational and social preferences so that you have a foundation for further research and decision-making. After narrowing your search down to a list of schools, start researching the... Read more →

Gluten Free Travel Blog is pleased to present Thriving Gluten Free In College, a periodic column about the trials and tribulations (but mostly the successes!) of a typical gluten free college student living on campus. Julie Bourne of The Campus Celiac blog will be sharing her experiences both at her college's "home" campus...and as she embarks on a semester studying abroad in Italy. Please pass this post along to any current -- or future -- gluten free college students you know, and encourage them to follow Julie both on our Blog (you can sign up for our feed on the top of the left column) and on her own Blog, The Campus Celiac. It was one week before I was to move halfway across the country to start my first year of college when I was diagnosed with Celiac Disease. This sudden diagnosis seemed to add an extra weight on top of the already stressful circumstance of leaving for college. However, I entered this new chapter of my life with the confidence that this would pose as a learning experience in which I would come out stronger and healthier than I ever was before. I am a college student entering... Read more →

BLOG HOP, DAY 9: So your son or daughter is starting the college search process. This is a stressful enough time for him or her -- and for you. Now add to it the fact that you'll have to put colleges through an extra filter: which ones can best serve gluten free students. The question any of them really know what they're doing? And if so, are there ample choices to make mealtime an enjoyable experience, not just another boring meal of the same "safe" options? It is with these questions in mind that our sister website, GlutenFreeTravelSite, recently began welcoming reviews of college dining services, submitted by students on gluten-free diets. Gluten free college students follow the steps for Submitting a Review as they would for a restaurant, store, hotel, or resort, but they choose "college" when prompted for the type of establishment they're reviewing.

 By adding colleges as a choice of venues to be reviewed, GlutenFreeTravelSite gives college students a way to share their feedback -- both positive and negative -- with current and prospective students who follow gluten-free diets. You can view the colleges reviewed thus far on our Gluten Free College Reviews page, which is... Read more →