Local colleges catering to students with food allergies

BOSTON — It’s not midterms yet, but colleges and universities are being put to the test this fall by students with food allergies.

Boston University has a new food station to address those students.

“I love it, I honestly get most of my food from here because usually, they provide more protein than over there,” said freshman Estelle Morris.

This station has fresh fruit, vegetables, and protein. It’s got a lot of what you expect to see in a dining hall, except it’s tailored for students with allergies.

“Ultimately we are just offering another option for our community as a whole, not singling out allergen students, but it’s here for them as an option,” said Christopher Bee, culinary director at BU.

The True Balance station is located at the West Campus Dining Hall, designed specifically for students with one or more of the most common allergens identified by the FDA, including peanuts, tree nuts, and milk.

There is also a pantry for students with peanut allergies and gluten intolerance.

You could call it a sign of the times. Boston University is among many schools across the country adding options for students with food allergies.

According to the Sargent Choice Nutrition Center at BU, the number of students reporting food allergies has remained consistent over the last three years, around 11%. The most common allergens reported: were tree nuts, peanuts, and shellfish.

“Typically, we will reach out to students over the summer who have reported food allergies and just try to get their information and try to let them know about the services that we do have,” said dietitian India Wilkerson.

Incoming students typically self-report their allergies, the school provides them with the resources available, which not only include information about this station but can also include one-on-ones with dietitians.

“We typically will say if you are someone who has a lot of allergies or more serious allergens or have even just more questions about any of the information we present, we give options. We’re always able to meet and speak with these students” said Wilkerson.

The school provides food and guidance one meal at a time.

“I feel like there are options for me, sometimes I just take lactaid and I deal with it because I like yogurt a lot,” said Morris.

More students are not just using the new food station but the gluten and nut-free pantry.

According to the Sargent Choice Nutrition Center, 141 students used it in the 2015-2016 school year. That number grew considerably to 257 students this past school year.

BU believes improved email outreach to students and class size could have led to increased numbers.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates as more information becomes available.

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