uconnLiving a gluten-free life is not an easy task. Celiac disease can be diagnosed at a younger age than ever before and while that may mean less symptoms over a lifetime, it also means more planning.

When children live in a mother and/or father’s household, they can be looked after and proper food can be bought for them. But when they go off to college, parents have to trust that their children are making smart food choices. Living on campus can mean limited options and extra chances of being “glutened” by a dining hall staff who may or may not be trained in how to handle gluten allergies.

Luckily, Udi’s has tried to make deciding where to go to college a little easier for celiac disease suffering teens by releasing their annual list of The Top 10 Gluten Free Accommodating Colleges. The schools they included were impressive with the handling and labeling, varied menu selections and active student groups, among other factors.

1. University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT

UConn Dining Service’s mantra is “Obtaining a college education is difficult enough. Obtaining food choices to meet your dietary needs should not be difficult.” Students who are on a gluten-free diet are encouraged to meet with the UConn Dietary Team, which includes a Registered Dietitian, a Dining Unit Manager, and a Production Chef. The team helps students to understand the available options, allows the team make adjustments to the students’ needs, and gives a personal contact for the student to rely on. Every Dining Unit has a special gluten-free area that stocks strictly gluten-free foods. Their Food Court has a complete gluten-free menu and so does their casual restaurant.

2. State University of New York Geneseo, Geneseo, NY

SUNY Geneseo has a full-time registered dietitian on staff to help create the best food and experience for students. Gluten-free options are abundant on the campus with menus that consist of a mix of naturally gluten-free items and specialty gluten-free products in all of their restaurants and cafes. Items are labeled with a yellow GF symbol to indicate it is gluten-free on menus, the staff is trained to use “purple allergen kits” that include separate cutting boards, knives and utensils when preparing the gluten-free foods and there are two separate areas for preparing these foods as well. On campus there are two specialty restaurants that are geared toward allergy-free foods.

3. Loyola Marymount, Los Angeles, CA

LMU was one of the first universities in the nation to be an accredited “GREAT School” by the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (NFCA), including completing gluten-free training for all chefs and managers. The school has an entirely gluten-free dining platform at their main dining hall and at least one gluten-free item, though often many more, at each of the 20 dining spots on campus.

4. University of New Hampshire, Durham, NH

UNH boasts an allergy-friendly station where wholesome items are prepared free of gluten and the top eight most common allergens. Additionally, there is an online meal order form for gluten- free meals and individualized accommodations.

5. University of Georgia, Athens, GA

The UGA nutrition program focuses on helping students through menu planning with gluten-free and other special diets in mind and creating dining opportunities for all students. We’ll cover the remaining five schools in another blog post.