Freshman Survival: Finding Food

That title sounds as if I’m going to write about foraging for food in the wilderness, something our pioneer ancestors did for survival. Actually I am going to write about finding food for Sarah, my celiac athletic daughter, at the University of Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas, where she will be attending college in the fall and where she will be a coxswain for the University of Kansas Rowing Team. There are similarities: When food means survival, it’s a serious challenge.

The average freshman college kid doesn’t have to even think about food because they will purchase a meal plan from the college they attend: simple and convenient.

But Sarah, an incoming freshman with celiac disease, must first learn what (if anything) she can eat at the college foodservice facilities. Then, for sure, she will have to supplement by cooking for herself. So the second step was to locate convenient grocery stores that carried as many of the products as possible that Sarah is accustomed to eating.

When we arrived at our hotel we headed to our hotel, The Oread. Then onto their restaurant, The Bird Dog for a late lunch. Lucky for us Kyle, the restaurant manager, is gluten intolerant and he assisted us in navigating what would be safe for Sarah to eat at his restaurant.

After drilling him on the menu, we then asked him about grocery shopping. There are several local grocery stores: Dillons, Checkers Foods, Aldi, Hy-Vee, and The community Mercantile. We only had 24 hours on the ground so we couldn’t visit them all, but Kyle told us that of all these stores that he shopped at, Hy-Vee had the best selection of gluten-free foods.

Tired and somewhat overwhelmed (orientation is so packed with information that we were on overload), we couldn’t depart Lawrence without the security of this trip to the grocery store. Shopping at home isn’t always easy because we often have to shop at multiple stores to get the items we want and need. At college Sarah isn’t going to have time for that.

When we arrived at Hy-Vee, we began at the first aisle. As we sent aisle by aisle looking for familiar gluten-free products on the shelves (and finding none) we began to wonder if Kyle was confused, or if we were in the wrong store altogether.

But finally, at the back of the store, we saw a huge sign that read: Health Market. There were multiple aisles and shelves and refrigerated and freezer sections of foods that Sarah eats at home and even a few new ones we will try.

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We discovered that Hy-Vee also has a service that enables one to order on line for either pick up or delivery. This is a great bonus for Sarah who will start training right away for her position of coxswain on the rowing team.

Our foraging trip to Hy-Vee reassured us both, and there is another viable option. There is a local Aldi, and this chain store has recently released multiple gluten-free products. So when we take Sarah to college we may also stock up at Aldi.

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My next strategy, still in the planning stage, is to investigate cooking and freezing complete meals for Sarah and shipping them in dry ice. This involves which recipes to cook and freeze, what are the optimal size containers that will stack and take up the least freezer space, and will the shipping cost render this idea viable? For answers, tune in to a future blog!

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  1. Dick L. says:

    Have you found the blog of “Casey the College Celiac”? If not, check it out. She’s been coping for two years now, and has lots of good ideas about what to eat safely, and some good links to others also dealing with eating GF at college.

    • Ashley Malmquist says:

      Hi Dick, thanks so much for the suggestion. Just checked it out and what an inspiration. Can’t wait to show Sarah and hope she can use as a tool next year at school. I couldn’t agree more with Casey feeling like she lost part of her identity – social eating. Thanks again!

      Carlyn

  2. Abigail Manville says:

    Your blog has been such a great tool for me. I was diagnosed with celiacs disease back in December, and i have to say it has been the hardest adjustment I’ve ever had to make. When i was visiting schools in Chicago i went to Berghoff’s for lunch after hearing it was gluten free and immediately fell in love 🙂 this post really helped me because it made me realize that other college kids have to think about this stuff too. luckily my dorms have kitchens in each suite (now i just have to worry about my roommates cross contaminating), but i’ll definitely be visiting your restaurant when i get home sick- its safe for me to eat and reminds me of my parents cooking! Good luck to Sarah in college next year!

    • Hello Abigail, thank you so so much for the kind words and for all the support! It’s so important for us to feed people safely and to try to be a resource for people like you. Sarah’s next journey is just beginning and it’s great to hear from fellow college students who have been successful. Cross contamination is something we are always thinking about (while it’s much easier at home), but I don’t know if Sarah had fully thought about that with her roommates, so thanks for the heads up. Educating and advocating others is so important – especially roommates! Thanks again and hope to meet you in person the next time you are in Chicago.

      Carlyn

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