Special food needs at college

Food sustains us and provides us a social outlet.  I typically suggest that all students visiting a college try the food and watch the interaction among students in the college dining facilities.  For some students, food is more important.  Eating can be a life and death decision for a student with a severe food allergy.  Gluten can make a student with celiac disease become ill.  There are also many students who have a diet based on religious and/or moral principles.  They may only eat vegetarian, vegan, Kosher or Halal food.  So what is a student to do?
Food allergies or celiac disease.  If you are a student with a food allergy or celiac disease, consider the guidance on Choosing a School, Dorm Living, Alcohol and Epinephrine, and The Kiss Study provided by Food Allergy Research & Education.  Make sure to ask questions of the dining hall staff and to speak to students with your health problem and see how well or poorly they are doing with the college’s food services.
The food service provider Sodexho has recently started the Simple Servings station, a station containing food prepared without milk, eggs, wheat, soy, shellfish, peanuts, tree nuts, and gluten.  This should be a good match for students with a gluten-sensitivity, like those with celiac disease, as well as the most common food allergies. 
According to the Department of Justice, food allergies may constitute a disability under the ADA. That doesn’t mean I haven’t heard of cases where a student transfers after a year at a college because they have ended up in the hospital emergency room several times because of a severe allergic reaction to food from the college dining hall. 
Vegetarians and vegans.  If you are a vegetarian or vegan student, check out what food choices will you have on campus.  Check if vegetarian and vegan foods are clearly marked in the dining facilities.  There are often vegetarian or vegan food stations and occasionally, a vegetarian or vegan dining hall, like State University of New York Purchase’s all-vegetarian eating facility, Terra Ve.
Terra Ve, Vegetarian Dining Hall at SUNY Purchase
Kosher or Halal food.  If you are looking for Kosher or Halal food, here are some questions you might have.
  • Is the food available and acceptable to you?
  • Is it fresh food or just “frozen” dinners, which you can reheat? 
  • Is the food part of the normal meal plan or will you have to spend extra for a special meal plan?
  • Where on campus is the food available?
  • Is there special food available during Passover or Ramadan? 
The Hillel College guide and the Heart to Heart’s Map of Kosher Food on Campus are great starting places for students looking for Kosher dining on campus.  Since Kosher dining on campus is often both Kosher and Halal certified, this may also be a good starting place for Muslim students wanting Halal food.  Muslim students may also want to check with the Muslim student organizations on campus.  
What is your experience with special food needs at college?

State University of New York – Purchase

State University of New York – Purchase might be especially interesting for you if you are interested in the fine or performing arts. It is one of the few public universities, which is an arts specialty school. There are four theatres on campus, a relatively new Dance Building with 12 dance studios, and the Neuberger Museum.  The movie “Black Swan” was shot here.

Twenty-five percent of students are from outside of New York State.  Politically, the student body is liberal. 35% of the students are vegetarian and the school has a vegetarian eatery, Terra-Ve on campus. There are 70 clubs and Division III Athletic teams. The largest student group on campus is the LGBT group. The Cheese Club is a also very popular group. One of the social highlights of the year is the Zombie Prom. There are no fraternities or sororities at SUNY Purchase.

The school is located in a wealthy, suburban residential area. A short bus ride will take you to White Plains. From White Plains, you can get to Manhattan by train in 45 minutes.

For additional SUNY Purchase photos, check out the Slosberg College Solutions LLC Facebook page.

If you attended or visited SUNY Purchase recently, what were your impressions? 

Manhattanville College, Purchase, NY

Manhattanville is a private co-educational college with 1700 undergrads (64% female) on 100 acres in Purchase, NY. Students come from 76 countries and 48 states. Classes are small and the school is especially known for its management, art, music, psychology and education programs. The school has over 50 clubs, a radio station and 21 NCAA Division III teams. Programs, including an Honors program and a fee-based Learning Disability program, are available. Special opportunities are available because Manhattanville is a non-governmental organization (NGO) of the UN.

The school uses the Portfolio System. Through this system, students working closely with a faculty advisor, talk about educational and post-baccalaureate goals and the curricular path that would best meet those goals. The portfolio reflects a student’s entire college career as both a system of planning and assessment and a repository for their best work.

The campus is well-maintained. Near the center is the castle, a beautiful mansion with marble halls from the 1800s, which is on the National Register of Historic Places.

The school’s mission is:

“To educate students to become ethically and socially responsible leaders for the global community. We are committed to doing this by ensuring three things:

· The full intellectual, ethical and social development of each student within a community of engaged scholars and teachers

· The application of students’ development as independent leaders, and creative thinkers, to their career and professional goals; and

· A diverse campus community whose members know, care about and support each other and actively engage the world beyond.”

My guide, a senior from the Dominican Republic, seemed to be living the school mission. He:

· Had participated in 3 internships, one of which had led to a job upon graduation. He praised the campus career services, which provided students assistance in getting internships in Westchester or New York City and getting jobs. Students can take a campus-bus or public bus to White Plains and then can take the train to New York City.

· Volunteered regularly in soup kitchen in Manhattan. He explained that the school values community service with over 30,000 hours of community service taking place over the last year.

· Spent a semester abroad in Germany, exploring many European countries.

· Recounted how one of his professors invited a group of international students for a pre-Thanksgiving feast. Not only does the president live on campus, but there is also on-campus housing for some of the teaching staff.

· Had chosen Manhattanville, in part, for its financial aid. Both need-based aid and merit-based aid are available.

If you visited or attended Manhattanville College, share your experiences.