Students with food allergies face a lifetime of caution when it comes to contact with certain foods. The Iowa Court of Appeals ruled Jan. 2 that a tree nut allergy may meet the definition of a disability under state law.

“It can be difficult at times, but I have never really viewed it as a disability, just special circumstances," said Colby Geniec, sophomore in management who suffers from a nut allergy

Although it goes unnoticed, many students affected with food allergies are constantly reading labels and double checking to make sure the product consumed is safe for them.

“[I'm often] worrying what can happen if I do eat [nuts]” said Elizabeth Gardner, senior in psychology, suffering from a nut allergy.

Gardner said at times it can be difficult, but there are places on campus that are very accommodating. “I can just read labels and ingredients and not choose that specific item,” Gardner said.

Cafes and eateries on campus are usually very willing to accommodate students with all types of food allergies. Accommodators consistently include labels or provide menus that include ingredients for students with these specific needs.

The number of people who suffer from nut allergies is on the rise. According to a recent health article in Time magazine, there are roughly 3.3 million people in America who suffer from nut allergies.

Nut allergies have very different forms, ranging from very mild conditions like a headache as a symptom to more severe conditions. In some cases, if someone affected by an allergy even nears nuts, they may break out into itchy hives.

People with severe conditions may have symptoms that include breaking out into hives or having their tongue or throat swell up. In these cases, they would need emergency medical care.

Gardner feels that eating on campus is not only safe, but also enjoyable knowing that “there are usually a lot of different choices.”

Brittney Rutherford, program coordinator for campus dining services, shared how important it is that students feel safe and secure eating on campus.

“We have a kitchen staff that is dedicated to ensuring that all of our students' food is safe,” Rutherford said.

Rutherford said if any student is concerned about their special dietary needs, they are encouraged to “come in and talk with us so we can best fulfill their needs.”

Another helpful tool that students can easily access on the ISU Dining website is NetNutrition. Here, students can view all the recipes and ingredients that are prepared at the dining centers and plan a meal ahead of time.

“Most students know what they can and cannot eat,” Rutherford said.

The Union Drive Marketplace is where most students should start when wanting to know more about food choices and dietary needs, Rutherford said. The kitchen staff and food supervisors are more than willing to take time to accommodate students who are willing to ask for help.

Geniec feels comfort knowing that restaurants on campus will continue to provide detailed labels.

“If restaurants on campus continually label the way they do, I won’t have any problems eating there and feeling safe,” Geniec said.

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