No time to waste today so I’m going right into it. This email is from a mom whose daughter has celiac, is making ALL of her own food at college, yet still has to pay for the $5,000 per year meal plan. Why? Because the reaction to gluten is not severe enough.
Read on and please offer some words of advice if you have them.
Hello Gluten Dude,
I am seeking some advice regarding my daughter’s required college meal plan. Here’s the gist:
She was diagnosed with Celiac in June ’14 (biopsy confirmed). Her symptoms are “silent”, but of course doing all that internal damage. She suffers from migraines, iron def anemia, insomnia, skin conditions, and irregular periods, to name a few.
[Dude note: Those don’t sound like “silent” symptoms to me.]
She’s in her first year at a private college which requires freshmen and sophomores to stay in dorms and pay for the meal plan. We checked out the food, of course, before signing on and they assured us that she would have plenty of GF options. Wrong.
At her 6 month followup this December, the anti-body levels had not changed a bit. Compare that to her younger brother, who, after eating GF at home, showed anti-bodies at normal levels at his 6 month followup last June.
Ok, so we decided to approach the school with an alternative plan. She would cook her own food, using her own equipment, in the dorm house’s full sized main kitchen. We also requested that she be allowed to move into a private dorm room so that she’d have more storage space for her equipment as well as a larger fridge/freezer.
They were SUPER accommodating in this and allowed it without question. All we needed was documentation from her doctor and she got her own room under the university disability program.
[Dude note: This sounds like a success story so far. Alas…keep reading.]
Then, she applied to be removed from the meal plan. She was denied on the grounds that because she did not go into anaphylactic shock from gluten ingestion, they could not excuse her from the meal plan.
This meal plan costs $2,500/semester.
It’s not so much about the money as it is about the lack of understanding. Sure, gluten won’t kill her right away like a peanut would someone with that allergy; it will just kill her slowly by silently destroying her intestines where over 70% of her immune system lives; not to mention, her silent symptoms will seriously undermine her efforts to excel in her education.
I am writing to see if you have any suggestions or advice on how I can best approach this situation. Have you, or any of your readers ever experienced this obstacle? I am not asking them to change the way they run their kitchen to accommodate my child. All I’m asking is for some recognition of the seriousness of this disease and to not make us pay for something we absolutely CANNOT use.
Thank you for your time and for giving us a voice.
You are quite welcome and I’m sorry for the utter BS you are going through. It’s not just a lack of understanding on the college’s part, but a lack of compassion, something we are seeing far too often in today’s world (and I’m not just talking about celiac.)
I’m sure the college is simply thinking dollars and cents (but no sense). On-campus students normally pay for the meal plan…off-campus students normally do not. I assume it’s worked into their budget.
My advice is to simply stick with it. $5,000 is a heck of a lot of money to spend on something that is not being used.
Anybody else been in a similar situation? Got some advice? Step right up…don’t be shy.