Celiac.com 01/03/2011 - Thanks to motivated food staff, students at the University of Connecticut will now be able to enjoy gluten-free menus in all of their dining halls, convenience stores and in the food courts.
To better serve those students who suffer from celiac disease or are gluten-intolerant, the students have teamed with dining director Dennis Pierce and culinary development manager Robert Landlophi, to transform UConn’s menus.
An estimated 75-100 students on a meal plan have celiac disease.
The social and medical challenges and stigmas that can follow sufferers of celiac disease make it difficult to eat outside the home, particularly in a college dining hall.
Medical advances in recent years have allowed for doctors better diagnose patients leading to a spike in the popularity of gluten-free diets. Pierce notes that the demand for a greater variety of gluten-free foods in grocery stores and restaurants is growing.
As the author of the website, “The Gluten-Free Chef” and cookbook, Gluten-Free Everyday Cookbook, Landlophi knows the gluten-free lifestyle incredibly well after his wife was diagnosed with celiac disease. By sharing his family’s personal story, he has helped shed a brighter light on the solution that has brought relief to thousands: gluten-free for life.
The culinary brain-child of Pierce and Landlophi comes as part of a joint effort to bring a gluten-free diet into the mainstream. Their menu, which took a few months to rework, already contained about 20% naturally gluten-free items, and needed only modest adjustments. As the country’s third largest residential student food program, serving nearly 180,000 meals each week, the menu stands out as national model for other schools.
Pierce is also joining forces with Boston’s Children’s Hospital, who have implored his expertise in gluten-free lifestyles, to create a series of informational training videos and reading materials for those who suffer from celiac disease and other food service professionals. It is the hope of those involved that this information will also be utilized by parents of gluten-intolerant children to help insure a lifelong commitment to remaining gluten-free.
Landlophi will be joining Pierce who will be attending the National Association of College and University Food Service Conference in Dallas, Texas. The two plan on making a presentation that addresses the growing need for gluten-free awareness on campuses across the country. Attendants can expect to hear about UConn’s self-imposed strict cooking protocols that are adhered to in order to avoid contamination with wheat products. UConn has taken it a step further to ensure that each student with a meal plan gets personal attention from the dining service staff which includes a detailed assessment of food allergies and dietary requirements.
The selection and quality of gluten-free products available to the public is steadily improving, and the organizers have invested a great deal of time to guarantee that the best possible products are served to UConn’s students.
Congratulations to UConn for forging a clear path for gluten-free students!