Student Life with an allergy
University might be the first time that you are dealing independently with an allergy. This information will give you practical steps to help you feel comfortable with living with an allergy whilst at university.
Letting the Disability Advisory Service know
The Disability Advisory Service can help you with adjustments that you might need in order to thrive at university. The Disability Advisory Service are contactable via the RISIS web portal. Or you can find out more information on the service via their webpages.
Applying for accommodation in halls of residence
When you apply for accommodation, you will have the opportunity to tell your Hall provider about your allergy. If you apply for a Halls room through UPP you will have the opportunity to declare medical conditions, disabilities, and any allergies. You will also have the opportunity to state any needs or preferences that you may have, such as needing a fridge for medication.
If you are concerned about an allergy (due to certain foods), you may want to consider a studio flat, which will allow you to have your own kitchen. However, we realise that a studio flat is not ideal for everyone, and living in a shared flat is often part of the student experience. We have set out some suggestions in the paragraphs below to make you feel more comfortable with sharing a flat.
Letting people in your accommodation know about your allergy
When you move into a halls of residence, if you wish, our Hall Mentors can help you let your flatmates know about your allergy.
You can have a flat meeting led by a Halls Mentor at any time during your stay in our accommodation. This will give everyone the opportunity to talk openly and make decisions about how they would like to live together during the year. This would be a good time to tell your flatmates about your allergy and how you intend to manage this. You can ask for this to be facilitated by your Hall mentor.
Living in a flat with a shared kitchen
Here are some recommendations that we make for students with food allergies that have previously worked well:
- Using your own washing-up materials and tea towel
- cleaning down surfaces before starting to prepare your own food
- keeping your food and cooking utensils separate to those of your flatmates
- labelling your allergen free food and utensils to reduce the risk of cross contamination
- putting up a poster in your kitchen with information on what to do in an emergency
Eating with a Clever Cuisine Eating plan (and Catered Halls)
The University offers award-winning Clever Cuisine Eating plans with both Catered Hall Rooms and as an add-on for all other students. Clever Cuisine Eating plans come with varying levels of meals per week and the team regularly cater for students with allergies and dietary preferences.
Information about the allergens in a dish and dietary suitability are displayed alongside dishes with full ingredients and nutritional listings available by scanning the QR code linking to the exact dish. You can view this information on the Hospitality Wellness Portal.
We ask that you speak to the Concierge Team at Park Eat who can provide detailed advice and explain if any further adaptations can be made (for example, providing your preference of dairy free milk at your ‘home’ outlet before opting to eat with an Eating Plan. All our food is cooked from scratch by professional restaurant grade University Chefs with a focus on minimising allergens (for example much of our bread is Sour dough base so vegan by default) where possible.
The team can be contacted via email@example.com and can arrange for a call-back or Teams meeting. They are also available in person at the Concierge Desk at Park Eat. Those with allergies and dietary preferences eating with a Clever Cuisine Eating plan will be given named contacts of friendly staff members within the Bars and Dining Team for assistance throughout the year.
Further information about Clever Cuisine, including FAQs can be found on the Clever Cuisine webpages.
Eating out on campus
If you have any questions about allergies and eating on campus and you aren’t using Clever Cuisine, you can speak to the staff on-site at the outlet you wish to use and they will assist you. Alternatively you can contact the right people for the right outlet (for University operated-outlets outside of the Union Building) by visiting the Hospitality webpages.
If you have an auto injector such as an EpiPen make sure you always have it with you. It is important to check that it is within date and that you store it correctly. We would also recommend keeping one in the kitchen if you are living in a shared flat.
You may want to consider wearing a medical alert bracelet.
Anaphylaxis UK have lots of good information and advice about dealing with an allergy at university.
We would also encourage you to register with the Disability Advisory Service via the RISIS web portal.
and also with the University Medical Practice:
Eating out in Reading
You might already feel confident about what you need to do when you go out for a meal but here are a few suggestions:
- Check the restaurant’s menu in advance if you can
- ask to see allergen information if it is not stated on the menu
- tell your server that you have an allergy and ask them to make a note on the order that is sent to the kitchen
- make sure the people you are with know about your allergy
- do not assume a meal will be okay without checking
If you would like to talk further about managing your allergy or anything else to do with student life and studies you can contact Student Services by using 'Ask us a Question' on RISIS, visiting Student Services or speaking with the Disability Advisory Service via the RISIS web portal.