Food Allergies/ accommodations

Our son was accepted to Clemson but part of our decision to attend or not is if the university will offer any accommodations. I have done some research and received little to no information from the school when I called. I was told he needed to place a deposit before I could find out if they could help us at all. This was not the case when I called another school he is considering (much more willing to get me information prior to deposit). Of course this currently is his #1 but their reluctance to help gave me a negative impression of the school. Does anyone have any insight into food accommodations? His condition falls under a true disability not just a preference. We just need to get through the first year and then we will be fine.

I would contact dining services. Have you only talked with admissions? We met with dining services and got a lot of information that way. Accommodations for food allergies and celiac are common. They do vary but in general do not pose problems. At some schools you can call and have a meal made in advance. At others the student can get menus with ingredients ahead of time. One way or the other foods will be available that are safe.

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My daughter is a current freshman with celiac. She had an online meeting with the dietitian. I believe food can be ordered in advance but she’s been fine with her gf options, which she really likes.

Check with dining services, for sure, but also make sure you try and connect with other students. At D’s school, they have perfected the song and dance to highlight all of the bullet points. Unfortunately, staffing shortages and rising food costs have thrown all of that out the window. As with all things, there is a discrepancy between the experience on the ground and the “sales pitch”. I’m sure it’s not intentional but when you are talking about serious health implications, you can’t be too careful, IMO.


We have made use of the FARE college registry. The reported Clemson data are:

However, what is reported may not actually be accurate on the ground - always good to try to eat in the cafeteria (or at least tour it to see if the accommodations are navigable or is it chaotic). And talk to the dietician.

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I spoke with someone in April Beckwith’s office. I had printed off the “Accommodating students with Dietary Restrictions” and she was the point person.
At South Carolina they were going to allow me to speak with a dietitian/ possibly reducing meal plan costs and potential housing (I wasn’t holding my breath on the last one). They stated that as long as he was admitted they would speak with me. Clemson required I have a deposit.
I was told that they might not be able to accommodate any or all of his needs. So I responded by stating that I am committing to full OOS tuition and the privilege of summer school and have zero accommodations - her response was “sorry.”
It is becoming clear that he will ultimately be make it a majority of his meals - he has a formula that gives him 75% of his required caloric intake. Are the kitchens in the dorms as gross as the ones I remember many moons ago when I was in school?

I’m kind of amazed that a school like Clemson is being so opaque and unwilling to meet and discuss. All students should be able to safely dine on campus. PERIOD. To me, a red flag for sure.

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We were wary of any school that presented reducing meal plan costs (so that the kid could provide their own meals) as a solution. That seemed like an abdication of responsibility, posed logistical problems, and had social costs since eating together is a good way to make and see friends.

I cannot understand Clemson. Failure to accommodate would be illegal unless accommodations pose undue administrative or financial burden on the schools.

Can you get the deposit back? Can you go over her head? Someone should be able to give you this info. This is ridiculous. We never ran into this.

Can you clarify: does your son drink a supplementary formula that gives him 75% of his nutrition? A liquid? So he would get 25% of his nutrtion from school food? Particular meals?

It sounds like he may have multiple allergies that scare them in terms of liability-? But the ADA requires accommodation, right?

ps Nothing is going to be perfectly safe unfortunately, There can be food labeling problems (Whole Foods does this) and lack of knowledge on the part of staff. Staff can say French Fries are fine but then fry them in oil with allergens. Cross-contamination is a concept that all staff need to understand. That said, both my kids with allergies or celiac had good experiences overall. Trying to give hope!

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If your son has most of his needs met by formula then he is not the average food allergy kid. I would contact the disability office and let them know what is going on. His allergist should also be able to write you a letter starting that this isnt just a kid with a peanut allergy and that you cannot commit without knowing if they will be able to meet his needs.


That was what I was trying to tell them. He is considered disabled in our state (like diabetes) and I shared that with the woman. I was taken back a bit by their response.

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PM’ing you.

Have you talked with the disabilities office? The health center? A dean? This situation seems above the pay grade of the dining services. The problem may be finding the right person.


I think it depends on how many foods can be eaten. I have written letters for students who can eat essentially nothing from the cafeteria so they can get out of the meal plan. I am thinking of one student in particular with profound ARFID. They allowed this student to supply their own food, but eat it in the cafeteria if they so chose.

The other accommodation was providing this student with a mini fridge and their own sink.

That makes sense. Even with “just” celiac and diabetes, my kid’s experience was not perfect. Fortunately my other son was only allergic to lobster, shrimp and crab though shrimp is in a lot of sauces. He brought an epi pen everywhere.

Bringing food to the cafeteria might address the social needs as long as that is safe.

I know of a couple of other conditions where food choices are extremely limited so @fiftyfifty1a you make a good point about reduction of the meal plan in favor of self-made meals. But then they need a kitchen and have to deal with contamination from roommates. Having a separate set of pots and plates and utensils might help-?

Yeah I think this is definitely above the pay grade of anyone in food services. We dont need to discuss your child’s medical issues here but it sounds like you need to start with the office of disabilities and possibly the director of the health center to try and get answers. And just like with his applications if he makes the phone calls and emails there may be a better response than if you do it.

I would suggest that both the parent and student be on any call or meeting about this food issue. I wouldn’t expect a high school student to navigate this alone, but absolutely, they need to be involved and hear the options.