Allergies & Intolerances

Swarthmore College is a residential and intentional community. Living and dining together are important ways of fostering interaction among all members of the student body. The College has a single dining hall that encourages interactions among those whose academic and extracurricular pursuits might not regularly bring them into contact with one another. 

Communal dining provides many opportunities for fellowship, but might present questions for students who experience  food allergies and intolerances. We do not offer separate facilities with different food offerings at Swarthmore. Rather, we work collaboratively with individual students with documented medical conditions to identify options that will meet their needs within the institutional setting. Please call 610-328-8633 to make an appointment.

We ask any student with a food allergy or intolerance who anticipates that they might need dining accommodations to submit a food allergy/intolerance form to Dining Services to start the process. You may email the form to dining@swarthmore.edu; send to Dining Services, Swarthmore College, 500 College Ave., Swarthmore PA 19081; or drop it off at the dining hall. After submitting the form, please call to make an appointment with Dining Services to discuss your specific needs, and to create a plan. For certain accommodations to the standard meal plan, the College may require medical documentation and may also connect you with our Student Health Service and Student Disability Service so that we can best meet your needs. Some possible components of the plan could be:

  1. Access to The Free Zone. New in 2013, the Free Zone is primarily designed for students who need to eat an entirely Gluten Free diet. Gluten-Free  prepared meals, salads, and desserts are available in the Free Zone, as well as a selection of ingredients for students to prepare their own meals. In addition, there is a range of packaged and homemade gluten-free items available, including cereal, oatmeal, bagels, assorted breads and muffins.
  2. Individual meal preparation. This can be arranged on an as-needed basis for students with severe allergies - for instance to dairy, nuts or soy. 
  3. Pack out options. If you're traveling with a team or other activity, or if you need to eat in one of the coffee bars on campus due to a tight academic schedule on a given day, you may arrange in advance to have a meal packed out, or left for you in one of those locations    
  4. Most students, with consultation from the dietician and Dining Service staff, find they can navigate the regular offerings safely, and don't require additional arrangements.

Some general information about Dining at Swarthmore:

  • Sharples Dining Hall is a peanut-free facility
  • Serving lines and individual dishes are labeled for these main allergens: Milk, Egg, Wheat, Peanuts, Soy, Shellfish/Fish, and Tree Nuts. Please consult with a member of staff if you have further questions about ingredients.
  • There are vegetarian and vegan options available at every meal, including for fried foods.
  • There are packaged gluten-free snacks available at both coffee bars and at Essie Mae's snack bar

We recognize that both returning and new incoming students may experience an evolving range of food allergies and intolerances.  The most important factor in a successful dining operation is communication. Please contact us to discuss any concerns you may have with regard to your particular needs or dining options so that we may assist you.