Gluten-free and allergen-free college dining has become more important over the past few years thanks to students and families asking for accommodations. Imagine living on your own, away from the comfort of home and needing to manage your food intolerances by yourself. The last thing any freshman wants is to accidentally eat gluten and suffer the consequences. Colleges have responded by creating gluten-free dining options for students. From a master list of dining options reviews for 100 U.S. colleges, we’ve gathered a list of the 15 standouts in gluten-free, allergen-free colleges in the country.
Kent State was the first to open an entire dining hall that is certified gluten-free in September 2016. Called the Prentice Café, the dining hall features an entirely gluten-free menu, as well as vegetarian and vegan dishes. The cafe earned certification from the Gluten-Free Food Services Certification Program, a food safety program offered through the Gluten Intolerance Group.
Cornell University’s Risley Dining Room is a dining hall that’s 100 percent certified peanut-, tree-nut and gluten-free. In addition, all of their menus have items labeled for the eight major food allergens (wheat, dairy, eggs, fish, nuts, peanuts, soy, shellfish) as well as gluten. Cornell’s dining services team are trained annually with AllerTrain food allergy training and can accommodate special dietary requests at any location.
University of Connecticut
University of Connecticut was the first college in the U.S. to offer a certified gluten-free bakery on campus. Each dining hall stocks gluten-free food and has a full gluten-free menu in the Food Court.
Southern Methodist University
Southern Methodist University has a dining hall called Healthy on the Hilltop, which serves vegan and gluten-free food. They also have a dietitian on staff who works with students to develop a healthy eating program for students and provides gluten-free options and equipment to students.
University of New Hampshire
University of New Hampshire has gluten-free zones in each of the three dining halls on campus. These GF zones have restricted microwaves, toasters and refrigerators, plus there are prepackaged gluten-free items like cereal, bread, granola bars, waffles, desserts and condiments. Students may also pre-order meals or cook their own food in separate gluten-restricted stations.
SUNY Potsdam offers a wide range of gluten-free prepackaged items for entrées or snacks, as well as separate stations in the dining halls that cater to gluten-free eaters, preventing cross-contamination.
SUNY Geneseo has an entirely gluten-free kitchen called Kasha. All gluten-free items are clearly labeled and prepared on specially marked purple workstations. The university also has gluten-free snack baskets that can be ordered online and paid via the campus meal plan.
University of Michigan
University of Michigan’s dining services feature gluten-free pantries in two of its seven dining halls and has a database of 1,900 gluten-free recipes. All food information is listed on MyNutrition, a tool students can use to preview menus and screen for allergens.
North Carolina State University
North Carolina State University offers gluten-free items in their dining halls and also features iPads on which students can search for information on each item and recipe served there. All gluten-free items are labeled, plus they send gluten-free students e-minders to keep them posted about relevant information. The dining hall staff is fully trained by AllerTrain.
Loyola Marymount has an entirely gluten-free dining platform in their main dining hall and at least one gluten-free item on each of the 20 menus. The entire dining services staff has been trained in food allergen preparation and was one of the first universities in the nation to become an accredited GREAT school by the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (NFCA).
University of Colorado – Boulder
University of Colorado labels all food with the top eight food allergens, as well as gluten. In addition to the dining halls, there are also grab-and-go gluten-free options for sale in retail areas. There are also gluten-free items in the Bakery.
Boston University has two gluten-free dining locations that have gluten-free pantries with food ranging from frozen dinners to pancake mix. These pantries are restricted to students who have attended Gluten Free training so it’s like a swipe-in only VIP club section for celiac or gluten sensitive students.
University of Vermont
University of Vermont has allergen-free dining areas that are kept safe by the use of external allergen training resources like the FDA, GIG and FARE. Residential dining halls each have a MyZone area, where gluten-free, nut-free and lactose-free products can be prepared safely. There is also a Gluten-Free Club for students.
The University of Arizona
There is no residential dining on The University of Arizona campus. Instead of choosing food buffet style, students buy their food retail. Each item is clearly labeled as gluten-free, vegetarian, vegan and other allergy-friendly options. In the student union, there’s a dedicated gluten-free facility that provides made-to-order stir-fry, fajitas and other items.
Auburn University has Plains to Plate – a farm-to-table and certified gluten-free space – as well as the Wellness Kitchen – a facility that serves high-quality meals for students with special dietary needs and has a gluten/allergen-free prep area. Other dining halls have gluten-free items thanks to the school’s Made Without Gluten Initiative.
Even if your college or prospective college isn’t on this top 15 list, they may still offer gluten-free dining options. According to Compass, the best thing you can do is start communicating with the university’s disability services office to learn about the school’s policies and speak to the dining services team. This is the best way to determine if dining services is trained to cater to special diets.
It’s great to see so many universities responding to the dietary needs of their students. Hopefully in the not too distant future, students and their parents won’t need to think twice about gluten-free college dining.