Top 10 Gluten-Free Accommodating Colleges
Back again for the third year, The Top 10 Gluten Free Accommodating Colleges list for 2015 features some old favorites and a plethora of newcomers. To make this very tough decision, we spent a year visiting schools across the country and asking students for their opinions, looking not only at the number of gluten free and healthy options, but also at the gluten free communities at each of these schools.
Narrowing down the list was not easy—there are so many schools that offer fantastic gluten free options—but we looked for schools that innovated and breathed new life into gluten free food choices. We also considered labeling, ingredient information accessibility, and designated allergen-free areas. While the list below features schools that impressed our team, we also recommend doing your own research to find the right fit for you.
As the 2015/2016 school year nears, we hope that choosing your meals won’t be nearly as hard as choosing your major!
- University of Connecticut
Storrs, CT – 30,000 Students
With an award-winning dining program, flexible meal plans, and an on-campus gluten free bakery, The University of Connecticut allows students to navigate the difficulties of college instead of worrying about their gluten free diet. UConn’s focus on healthy eating expanded in 2015 to include quick-service restaurant One Plate, Two Plates, which utilizes organic and local ingredients, and the country’s first certified gluten free bakery on a university campus. For students that subscribe to gluten free or special diets, UConn offers a full team to plan meals including the Assistant Director of Residential Dining, a Dining unit Manager, a Production Chef, the registered dietitian, and the Area Manager of Culinary Development.
With each residential dining unit stocking gluten free items and a full gluten free menu available at the Food Court, The University of Connecticut doesn’t simply accommodate its large community of gluten free students, staff and faculty: it celebrates them.
- SUNY Geneseo
Geneseo, NY – 5,000 Students
SUNY Geneseo, a liberal arts college in upstate New York, works on the philosophy of creating naturally gluten free recipes and rethinking the bases of each dining hall dish to be naturally gluten free. The campus’s full-time registered dietitian makes recommendations and helps find substitutions for gluten-full items such as bagels, pasta and bread. Dining halls on campus feature options like an ancient grain bar and a world kitchen, all with gluten free items clearly labeled and prepared on specially marked purple work stations. One of the stars of SUNY Geneseo’s dining program is Kasha, an entirely gluten-free kitchen, with a culinary-driven menu. The university also offers gluten free snack baskets that can be ordered online and paid via the campus meal plan.
- University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, Michigan – 43,000 Students
As one of the nation’s largest college dining operations, the University of Michigan’s dining services feature gluten-free pantries in two of its seven dining halls. To gain access to these pantries, gluten free students have to review simple cross-contamination training documents provided by the EatSmart dining coordinators. The dining program also works with a database of 1,900 gluten free recipes in order to accommodate Michigan’s growing gluten free student population. If students have questions about recipes or allergens, all foods served by Michigan Dining are listed on MyNutrition, a tool that allows students to preview menus and screen for allergens.
- North Carolina State University
Raleigh, NC – 34,000 Students
North Carolina State University’s dining services take their allergy-friendly focus to an ingredient level. The university places iPads in each dining hall, allowing gluten free students to search details on each item and recipe served there. Additionally, NC State doesn’t just label gluten free items on their dining hall menus—they also keep in touch with gluten free students digitally via e-minders and an allergy blog to ensure a worry-free dining experience. A dining hall staff that is fully trained by AllerTrain support NC State’s transparent ingredient policies and clear labeling. The university is also developing a program that allows students with gluten free and allergy needs to tour campus dining locations and discuss eating safely on campus with a trained Allergy Ambassador.
- Loyola Marymount
Los Angeles, CA – 10,000 Students
Loyola Marymount, one of the first universities in the nation to become an accredited GREAT school by the NFCA, received national attention in 2015 as a featured location on the Gluten-Free Chef’s Table Tour. With an entirely gluten-free dining platform in their main dining hall, and at least one gluten free item on each of the 20 dining platform menus, LMU Hospitality accommodates its growing community of gluten free students. As an accredited GREAT school, LMU’s chefs and managers have all completed gluten free food preparation training.
- University of Colorado – Boulder
Boulder, CO – 32,000 Students
The University of Colorado follows the A9 Identified Allergen Project in all of their dining centers, meaning that all top eight food allergens and gluten are labeled clearly. In addition to the dining halls, CU Boulder also features grab-and-go gluten free options in retail areas, as well as baked goods from The Bakery on campus. The C4C dining center also features specialized, culture-centric menus with gluten free options.
- Boston University
Boston, MA – 33,000 Students
Boston University Dining Services, in conjunction with BU’s Sargent Choice Nutrition Center, focuses on health and taste when creating options for gluten free students. BU Dining Services offers two gluten-free locations—a kitchen at Marciano Commons and a station at West Campus—that both additionally feature gluten free pantries, with everything from frozen dinners to pancake mix. These pantries are swipe-in only, so students with celiac or a gluten sensitivity can be granted access and eat safely after attending Gluten Free training at BU’s Sargent Center.
- University of Vermont
Burlington, VT – 13,000 students
The University of Vermont, a student favorite, utilizes external allergen training resources, including the FDA, GIG and FARE, in all food preparation areas. With dedicated allergen-free areas, UVM Dining works to ensure variety and safety in gluten free meals. Each residential dining hall offers a MyZone area, where gluten free, nut free and lactose free products can be prepared safely. In addition, the campus features Simple Servings, a hot entrée section in the Harris/Mills complex, in which all meals are prepared gluten-free. Students can also join the Gluten-Free Club, which hosts dinners and provides support for gluten free students.
- The University of Arizona
Tucson, AZ – 40,000 Students
The University of Arizona does food differently: on UA’s Tucson campus, there is no residential dining. Instead, all food purchases are retail, making gluten free more accessible than ever. All gluten free items served on campus are clearly labeled, as are vegetarian, vegan and other allergy-friendly options. Core+, located at the Park Student Union, is a dedicated gluten free facility that provides made-to-order stir-fry, fajitas and other items. Core+ also supplies the school’s Red and Blue Market grab-n-go’s with prepackaged sandwiches wraps, sushi and salads. UA’s Gluten Free Club also hosts the Gluten Free Awareness Expo each year.
10. Auburn University
Auburn, AL – 26,000 Students
In Fall of 2014, Auburn University opened The Wellness Kitchen, which includes the school’s first gluten/allergen free prep area. As part of the school’s mission to better serve students with special dietary needs, the buffet-style facility serves high quality ingredients and meals. Beyond The Wellness Kitchen, many items produced in the campus dining halls are part of the school’s Made Without Gluten initiative. Students can also purchase fresh produce, pre-packaged gluten-free food items, and frozen organic items at the Cub Stop C-store. Students who have a special dietary need can also join the Special Dietary Needs Advisory Council, a peer-led group that provides resources, support and advice for students with special diets, including gluten free.
Honorable Mention: Michigan State University, Villanova University, Notre Dame University, University of California – Berkeley, University of Wisconsin-Madison