A College Listens and Provides Celiac-Safe Meals. Very Cool!!

can a celiac eat safely at college

Dude note that has nothing to do with this post: I’m sitting at a Starbucks on the corner of 57th and 10th, watching the bevy of activity outside and just absolutely digging living in NYC.


So one of my Dudette’s is a sophomore at University of Delaware. After her health tanked Freshman year (read her story here), she gave up all dairy and gluten over the summer and the improvement in her health was startling (she does not have celiac). All good…right?

Then came Sophomore year and let’s just say the college isn’t making it easy. They do have a gluten-free section (yay!), but it’s not dairy free and tons of their gf items have dairy. She’s making it work, as she always does. But it’s a pain.

In this day and age, when food allergies and celiac disease rates are rising, why aren’t colleges doing more to keep their students safe? And please don’t tell me it’s a financial issue. I still can’t get over what colleges charge for tuition, keeping so many from getting a college education and pursuing their dreams. Ok Dude…get back on track.

Well here’s some good news (followed by atrociousness…I’ll get to that). Rider University will now offer a completely allergy-free station at their cafeteria “following a former student’s complaint that the university did not accommodate students with food allergies.” Here’s the article and here are some points from yours truly.

– First and foremost, this is awesome. Even though the Feds had to get involved, they said Rider was cooperative. May they be the first of many. College is stressful enough. Eating there shouldn’t be. Kudos to Rider.

– The article says “People with celiac often eat what’s called a “gluten free” diet.” Often? So many to educate still.

“The university did not believe it was violating the ADA , which covers a number or disabilities, from mental and physical impairments that limit major life activities – including eating, but agreed to make significant changes to resolve the issue.” I’ll leave this up to the legal scholars here, but I’m ok with this. Feel free to prove me wrong.

“The station serves food free of the eight major food allergens – peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, milk, eggs, wheat and soy. The food provided is also gluten-free.” Again…very cool.

So all is good right?

Then I made the mistake of reading the comments. Brutal. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. After I’ve stuck my head out over the years (including the Super Bowl ad where we got 18,000 signatures on a petition), I’ve been harassed, called every name in the book and threatened. Yeah…good times. All for trying to help the community. Funny world we live in. Except it’s not.

The comments were full of “it doesn’t affect me so f**k you” kind of thing and that “we’re what’s wrong with America”. Let me tell you, there are tons of things wrong with America; us trying to keep safe is not one of them. Here’s a little sampling for your entertainment:

  • “Nothing more…disgraceful…bet they ain’t allergic to beer and pot….wasted tuition…hope u find jobs!”
  • “I don’t think colleges do enough to make sure everyone gets vaccinated. So until then, I am bringing peanut butter to school every day!”
  • “Poor handicapped student could make own lunch if unable to feed on common meals. What next? Sterile tubes?”
  • “This person if they truly have celiac disease they need to take responsibility for themselves and their own health not demand the school and everyone else too.”
  • “Now the colleges and universities are bowing down to the 5% with food allergies. Good. They’re getting what they asked for. Liberalism.”
  • “Close the cafeteria and tell these MEN and WOMEN to eat wherever and whatever they like OFF CAMPUS.”

Yeah…we’re what’s wrong with America.

So to the celiac community, let’s take the victory and keep moving forward. To those who left the comments above, I just have one thing to say to you (not remotely PG rated):

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3 thoughts on “A College Listens and Provides Celiac-Safe Meals. Very Cool!!”

  1. According to previous ADA rulings Celiac Disease and the institution needing to provide a safe meal are a requirement. If they for whatever reason can’t provide one, then they must refund the student the cost of the new plan they make them take and possibly provide them with a kitchen space they can use.

  2. I am concerned about this for myself. I’ll be doing a ten-day on-campus residency for a graduate degree this summer. I have celiac disease as well as IBS, so I eat low FODMAP and GF. The problem is not that students are demanding that dining halls accommodate them. The schools are requiring students to sign up for the dining hall and pay for food they can’t eat. If schools require that students pay for the plans, they are required to accommodate. My diet is very difficult to accommodate, and being sick when they contaminate me will have a significant impact on my participation for those dawn-to-dusk ten days of classes. I don’t really trust college students on work-study to make sure my meals are safe. I’d far prefer to bring my own food than rely on a dining hall.

  3. Have you noticed how often “liberal” and “gluten free” are conflated? I’m pretty sure Republicans get Celiac too. They certainly have their share of LGBT kids. I think the idiocy around that is related to the ADA issue. And it’s an important safeguard. In my lifetime, I have cared for a dying or elderly relative three times. My interactions with invalid care agencies are not something I’ll cherish forever. They are often all about greed. Without the ADA, and without a Celiac diagnosis to back it up, I’d fear for my future frail self. Sickness is no respecter of political ideology. Off-topic: What’s really sick is how the ADA is being twisted to deny some children an education because they are designated “hyperactive” and now they need a special ed teacher… which is never provided, because… budget. Any law can be twisted. It’s up to us to keep that from happening.

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I AM someone who's been gluten-free since 2007 due to a diagnosis of severe celiac disease. I'm someone who can steer you in the right direction when it comes to going gluten-free. And I'm someone who will always give you the naked truth about going gluten free.

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