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Food Allergy

Off to College – with Food Allergies

The College Check List

From The Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network

Food Services

A Few Months Before School Starts…

  • Schedule a meeting or a phone conference with the director of food services and get information about available services. Ask questions about food preparation and serving procedures and the risk of cross contact. Can students bring their own food into the dining halls?
  • Find out about food served at the stadium and dorms, as well as at other locations. Many universities have fast-food restaurants on campus. If you plan to eat there, visit these locations and ask for ingredient information.

Once You’re There…

  • Avoid foods that pose a high risk from cross contact, such as cereals, baked goods, and ice cream top- pings, if you are allergic to peanuts or tree nuts. A good rule is to avoid desserts prepared away from home.

Residence Life

A Few Months Before School Starts…

  • Contact the department of residence or student life to discuss your allergy and the medication that is used to treat a reaction.
  • Consider buying or renting a combination refrigerator/ freezer/microwave to keep in your dorm room. This will allow you to prepare your own food.

Once You’re There…

  • If you have a roommate, discuss your allergy with him or her. You may also want to give your room- mate and/or hallmates a lesson in administering an EpiPen® or Twinject™ if you have one prescribed
  • If your roommates eat the foods to which you are allergic, use caution to avoid cross contact. Wash counters and utensils thoroughly.
  • Keep plenty of safe snacks on hand so that you don’t arrive hungry to a social situation.

Campus Security/Public Safety Office

A Few Months Before School Starts…

  • Meet with campus security to discuss the protocol if you should have a reaction. On some campuses, students are instructed to call campus security instead of 911 in case of emergency so that campus security can direct emergency services where to go. Find out the emergency protocol.

Medical Services

A Few Months Before School Starts…

  • Ask your doctor to provide a letter documenting your food allergy restrictions, symptoms, instructions for medications, and procedure for treating a reaction. FAAN’s College Food Allergy Action Plan is an easy way to collect this information.
  • Ask your doctor to recommend a primary care physician and an allergist near your college.
  • Meet with the college’s health centre to discuss emergency procedures. Ask them about the location of the closest hospital. Contact the emergency service that serves the campus and find out what medications they carry.
  • Make sure you have your medical insurance card. For U.S. residents, know any restrictions on your medical insurance coverage.

Once You’re There…

  • Make several copies of your Food Allergy Action Plan and post it in the dorm’s kitchen, next to the phone in your dorm room, and next to the phone in your Resident Adviser’s room.
  • Make sure you wear/carry medical alert identification. This can be done by wearing a piece of jewelry, such as a MedicAlert® ID bracelet, or by carrying a card in your wallet.
  • Carry your medications with you at all times!

The Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network (2006). Reprinted with permission. View here.

First published in Allergic Living magazine (c) Copyright AGW Publishing Inc.

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Allergic Living acknowledges the assistance of the OMDC Magazine Fund, an initative of the Ontario Media Development Cooperation.