Mobile menu
Home » Living with Celiac Disease » Information for Students & Schools » Information for College Students

Information for College Students

Three students studying outside.

No matter how long you have been living gluten-free, you’re likely to be anxious about going off to college. Fear not! Beyond Celiac has the resources you need to gear up for the school year ahead. With the right resources, tools and advice, you can attend university anywhere you want.

Gluten-Free Accommodations on Campus

In December 2012, a lawsuit filed against Lesley University set a precedent for college students living with celiac disease. Essentially, gluten-free students were being denied accommodations for their medical diets and were unable to opt-out of the mandatory meal plan. The case was sent to the US Department of Justice, who ruled that Lesley University must make reasonable accommodations for students.

While this case did not establish a law that all colleges and universities must adhere to, it provides guidelines for other schools to follow. According to the settlement, Lesley University agreed to, among other things:

  • Provide gluten-free and allergen-free food options in its dining hall food lines in addition to its standard meal options
  • Allow students with known allergies to pre-order allergen-free meals
  • Display notices concerning food allergies and identify foods containing specific allergens
  • Train food service and university staff on food allergy-related issues
  • Provide a dedicated space in its main dining hall to store and prepare gluten-free and allergen-free foods
  • Work to retain vendors that offer food without allergens.

These agreements can serve as suggestions when you speak to a food service director or other authority on your campus.

Talking to the University Staff

A great place to start is your school’s food service director. They are your best link to the gluten-free options currently available on campus and which options could be made available. By meeting, you’ll also get a sense of how well the dining services team understands gluten-free needs. If you’re still touring schools, try to speak with the foodservice director at each one.

Some questions to consider asking your foodservice director include:

  • Where is the best place to go for gluten-free food?
  • Do any of the dining halls have a gluten-free section for students?
  • Are there other students eating gluten-free on campus?
  • Are you able to share the ingredients of dishes served so I can ensure they are gluten-free?
  • Do the kitchens have a dedicated section for gluten-free food preparation?
  • How do you prevent cross-contact in your kitchen?
  • Do you use any symbols to indicate which dishes are gluten-free or can be made gluten-free?

Once you’re in the dining hall, tell the staff that you have a medical condition that requires you to eat gluten-free food, so they’ll take your concerns seriously. Ask these questions before you eat: 

  • This sauce looks great – Can you tell me the ingredients in it?
  • Do you know if these French fries were cooked with the onion rings or chicken fingers? Or are they made in a separate fryer?
  • It looks like some pasta fell into the brown rice. Would you be able to serve me a spoonful of rice from a fresh batch?
  • Do you mind changing your gloves before you prepare my gluten-free sandwich?
  • Can you place my burger on a piece of aluminum foil before you put it on the grill top? I know you toast the buns on the grill, so this way my food will be protected.


Gluten-Free in College Student Toolkit

Preparing for college can be stressful enough without a gluten-free diet thrown in the mix. To make it easier on you, Beyond Celiac has compiled resources for new and current students, both newly diagnosed and gluten-free diet pros, so students have a one-stop-shop to make the transition easier. (Parents, this information will be helpful for you, too!)

Here’s some of what’s inside this essential booklet:

  • Key questions to ask when choosing a college
  • Tips for communicating with dining services
  • Info on registering with the Office of Disability Services
  • Tips for finding support on campus
  • An overview of reading labels
  • Tips for eating gluten-free on a budget
  • And more!

​Simply fill out the form below for instant access to the Gluten-Free in College Student Toolkit:

Other Resources

In this section you’ll find additional resources that didn’t fit in the College Student Toolkit, including things like recipes, conversation guides, and additional statistics.

Think you may have celiac disease?

Symptoms Checklist