The time is now. Finalizing medical forms for accommodations, shopping for twin extra long bedding (this is not an easy task mind you) and speaking to dining services tops the soon-to-be college freshman prep to-do list. Add a couple of tips, tricks and rock solid old fashioned advice from those in the trenches and stress levels might even drop down!
Below I’m sharing links to critical information that I believe we crucial to my son’s staying safe, healthy and most of all, happy. Cyrus is a college sophomore managing peanut, tree nut sesame and asthma and these words of wisdom below helped deliver a very successful freshman year!
Note: I had to dig around, email, message and make calls for this data, thankfully, for you, this data is now online!!
Critical Food Allergy Tools for College Prep
- About the U.S. Colleges Directory: Comparing Food Allergy and Gluten Free Policy– This guide is pure food allergy gold. It provides an insight into the three major college food service providers as they all answered 18 questions to the Allergic Living Magazine researchers/reporters. I call them researchers as this was a deep diver into data.
- Allergic Living’s U.S. Colleges Directory: Comparing Allergy and Gluten Free Policy – Is the partner to the above piece. If you are school shopping this guide list a healthy list of colleges and their food service providers.
- Managing Food Allergies at College – This download from Food Allergy Research and Education offers a good overview of the areas to be addressed, such as disability services, housing, dining services, etc.
- Emergency Care Plan – This is just a must-have. Roommates, RA’s and friends might need a roadmap of what to do during an emergency. My son keeps copies hanging by his dorm room door and in his backpack. The plan details how to administer the various types of epinephrine auto-injectors and other detailed information such as allergens, asthma, emergency contacts, etc.
- Allergic Child – This website and blog is penned by veteran food allergy mom Nicole Smith. Her son, Morgan, who also writes blogs about college life, has been an inspiration to many of us. He is taken on college with such inspiring gusto! He details is overseas experience and learning and an example of yes, this will work out–with planning and some work!
- Cashew Containing Kale Chip Teaches EMT That He’s Not Invisible – This article is key for all college bound students to read as the beauty of youth is feeling like you can conquer anything! The lesson was that no matter what, following food allergy management protocol is critical. You’ll enjoy some of the irony in this piece too!
- FARE college related webinars – Drop by this webpage to check out webinars that might apply to your student! Topics like navigating college, travel and dining out can be found here.
- Dating with Allergies When a Kiss is not a Kiss – Ah the dreaded kissing topic. By now many students have experienced their first kiss and have dated. Alas, for several kids heading out, dating will be new or expanding! This article written by a food allergic adult is worth the read.
- Is Your Child Off to College? – I was honored to write this blog post for the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Connection Team after I spoke at their teen retreat about college. It’s a simple checklist of things to do! Checklists help keep parents and students on the same page, thus reducing the stress that can mount!
- College Students: The Food Allergy Stories That Speak Volumes – The power of real-life situations and stories beat out any parental lecture. I pulled together a grouping of stop-in-your-heels stories that teach important food allergy lessons.
- Focus on communication! Not only with your student but encouraging them to develop relationships with their school. My own son’s dining services commented one day that they were worried about the other kids with food allergies who are not coming forward to talk about their food allergy.
- It’s severe. I refer to my son’s allergies as life threatening since he carries epinephrine and can go into anaphylactic shock. We’ve come to realize, especially at college, people lump food allergies and intolerances into one health concern basket thinking my son just get a stomach ache. When we say life-threatening that seems to alert folks to the serious nature of life-threatening food allergies.
You can do this! College is an amazing time and with some pre-planning, success awaits you!
Disclaimer: I am part of the Allergic Living Magazine and I contribute in addition to enjoying the fabulous job of Product Editor. Needless to say, I’m biased in my belief of their good work. Allergic Living and others mentioned above did not ask me to include them. To be honest, none of them know that I am writing about them today! My hope is to share info that might inspiring something good or even help you decide what you don’t want too.