No popular authors found.

Categories

No categories found.


Join Celiac.com's forum / message board and get your questions answered! Our forum has nearly 1 MILLION POSTS, and over 62,000 MEMBERS just waiting to help you with any questions about celiac disease and the gluten-free diet. We'll see you there!






Follow / Share


  FOLLOW US:
Twitter Facebook Google Plus RSS Podcast Email  Get Email Alerts

SHARE:

Popular Articles

No popular articles found.
Celiac.com Sponsors:

Is a Food Allergy a 'Legitimate' Disability?

Celiac.com 02/08/2013 - In an article for Fox News, Hans von Spakovsky, a senior fellow at the right-wing Heritage Foundation, ridicules the idea that the Department of Justice (DoJ) should use its weight to force colleges and universities to accommodate students with food allergies under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Photo: CC--Steven A. JohnsonAt issue is a settlement the DoJ obtained with Lesley University in Massachusetts, which had allegedly violated the Americans with Disabilities Act by not adequately accommodating students with food allergies.

Under the settlement agreement with the DoJ, Lesley University will pay $50,000, offer meals that do not contain “egg, wheat, shellfish, fish, soy, peanut, tree-nut products, and other potential allergens," prepare the food in a dedicated area, and to allow students to pre-order their special meals, among other requirements.

In the view of von Spakovsky, the agreement amounts to "extortion" by the the DoJ. He calls the "idea that this is a federal issue, or that the Justice Department should burn its resources investigating food preparation in university dining halls…a complete absurdity."

He goes onto call the DOJ's efforts at Lesley a "dish-hunt [which] exemplifies mindless mission creep and the bloated expansion of the federal nanny state."

What do you think? Do you have children or loved ones with celiac disease, especially of college age? Should celiac disease be considered a disability? Do they deserve gluten-free food options at school? Should the government pressure schools that either can't or won't act on their own? Let us know your thoughts by commenting below.

Click here to read Hans von Spakovsky's full article, ridiculing efforts by the federal government to use the Americans with Disabilities Act to pressure colleges to accommodate students with food allergies.

Celiac.com welcomes your comments below (registration is NOT required).



Related Articles




Spread The Word





33 Responses:

 
gretajane@gmail.com
Rating: ratingfullratingfullratingfullratingfullratingempty Unrated
said this on
09 Feb 2013 12:41:34 AM PST
I would have a hard time trusting them anyway. It's so hard to avoid cross-contamination, but what other choice does a starving college student have? Many schools have a mandatory meal plan, in which case they should accommodate special needs.

 
erica
Rating: ratingfullratingfullratingemptyratingemptyratingempty Unrated
said this on
11 Feb 2013 3:47:10 AM PST
I have two children (21 and 14) with celiac disease. I agree that it would be nice if universities did consider celiacs under the disability act... as this is a serious life long auto immune disease.

I would also like to add that my 21 year old is a 4th year University of Waterloo (30,000 students) in Waterloo Ontario Canada and he has managed just find. First year the university did accommodate him and he was allowed to live in a residence where he had his own kitchen so he prepared all his food every day. Years 2-4 the student find their own housing so there was no issue here. There is a huge increase of restaurants and grocery stores carrying gluten free foods so my son never went without. He also was able to go to the bars (drinking age 19) and enjoy a cider beer or rum and coke. We have to prepare our children to be on their own.

 
Christine
Rating: ratingfullratingfullratingemptyratingemptyratingempty Unrated
said this on
11 Feb 2013 5:52:33 AM PST
I think the question should only be whether or not the DOJ should be mandating it. I do have celiac and a child with celiac - we also have milk allergy among other items. I say no. It's amazing what can get done in a school district with parents working together with food preppers. We have a Gluten Free Menu available. There actually are a lot of colleges and universities that offer gluten free options. We are a nation of cry babies. Have your high school student to a report on the college they've chosen and have them go in and work it out. If they are met with problems then go help them out. Stop crying and expecting the gov. to help you. EVEN IF THE GOVERNMENT DOES DO something... I would still go in and see first hand exactly what they are doing and where they are buying their products, etc. Does it take a LOT of extra time, work, and money... yes, but I wouldn't let someone else take control of my health anyway.

 
Armanda
Rating: ratingfullratingfullratingfullratingfullratingfull Unrated
said this on
30 Jun 2014 7:40:14 AM PST
I'm not sure where you were able to find out that a lot of colleges and universities have gluten free options but the ones here in Florida do not unless you mean out west or in Canada.

 
Danielle
Rating: ratingfullratingfullratingfullratingfullratingfull Unrated
said this on
11 Feb 2013 7:30:48 AM PST
I was diagnosed with Celiac disease 7 years ago, and I 100% think it should be considered a disability. Most of the food industry is ignorant when it comes to gluten-free and think of it as a fad diet. If they were properly trained and monitored then people in my situation wouldn't be looked at like they have 3 heads when they order something gluten-free. In Italy, employers give their employees with celiac disease one extra day off a month to go out and purchase their gluten-free food because it is sold in the pharmacies. Just frustrating that people don't see this disease for what it is: a disability, and not just some sort of fad.

 
Renee
Rating: ratingfullratingfullratingfullratingfullratingempty Unrated
said this on
11 Feb 2013 9:41:34 AM PST
Colleges can't have it both ways: they either need to make an exception to mandatory meal plans for people with food allergies, or accommodate them.

 
Kathy
Rating: ratingfullratingfullratingfullratingfullratingempty Unrated
said this on
11 Feb 2013 10:09:19 AM PST
I have a child getting ready to go to college next year who has celiac disease. I'm very worried about her being able to eat safely while she's away. I don't know if colleges should be mandated to provide allergy friendly choices (we have too much legislation as it is), but I do think that it is the responsible thing to do.

 
Shari
Rating: ratingfullratingfullratingfullratingfullratingempty Unrated
said this on
11 Feb 2013 12:30:15 PM PST
Many times college students are required to live on campus and pay for a food card. They shouldn't be forced to pay for something they can't use. With the growing number of people with food allergies, there is no reason that they shouldn't be accommodated. I think this is just part of the ongoing education, and that years from now we'll look back and wonder what took so long.

 
Mardi
Rating: ratingfullratingfullratingfullratingemptyratingempty Unrated
said this on
11 Feb 2013 12:42:29 PM PST
Of course celiac and food allergies in general should be considered a disability and therefore students or anyone that uses a dining hall for meals with no other resources should be accommodated. When we were looking at colleges for our daughter, the dining hall was a significant factor in determining which college she would go to. With the possibility of dire consequences when gluten is consumed, it is imperative that schools and other institutions recognize the need and make reasonable accommodations.

 
Rich
Rating: ratingfullratingfullratingfullratingfullratingempty Unrated
said this on
11 Feb 2013 12:46:50 PM PST
Hans von Spakovsky obviously doesn't have celiac disease or he would better understand how "dangerous" it can be. Universities/colleges should have the common sense (maybe I'm expecting too much from our institutions of higher learning)to already provide for students who have food allergy problems without the interference of "Big Brother".
The ultimate question, I think, is what ever happened to common sense and wanting to help people? I have celiac disease and live with the difficulties it creates whenever I have to eat, even at home.

 
teresa
Rating: ratingfullratingemptyratingemptyratingemptyratingempty Unrated
said this on
11 Feb 2013 1:27:46 PM PST
I am a celiac and I am not sure they need to call it a disability but there should be options for the kids at college. If they do not have any other option then I think the school is not providing for them.

 
maverita
Rating: ratingfullratingfullratingfullratingfullratingfull Unrated
said this on
11 Feb 2013 2:08:07 PM PST
Those of us with food allergies should DEFINITELY be considered handicapped. As a landscape architect, I am not allowed to put a bench under a tree in a commercial landscape unless I provide handicapped access to it, even if there are already a hundred benches not far away with handicapped access. THAT seems like overreach to me. BUT to be able to go to college and live in the dormitories, you have to be able to eat on campus. All people should be able to have access to food. I have multiple food allergies and traveling is a nightmare. Now they won't even let me take my specialty foods on the airlines, so I HAVE NOT flown for over a decade. Last time I had to evacuate a hurricane I ended up passed out in the parking lot of a grocery store that didn't have any protein that I could purchase that did not need to be cooked, except for a can of tuna fish, which I had already eaten 2 cans of that day. I have been warning restaurants for years that class action suits are in their future if they don't start offering alternatives for people with food allergies. I should be able to walk into any restaurant or cafeteria in this country and be able to eat at least one meal, and lettuce with lemon squeezed on it does NOT count. I am also sick and tired of calling up the restaurants ahead of time to determine that there is something I can eat and then when I show up getting an entirely different story. AND I am sick and tired of being poisoned even after giving a list of my allergens, simply because often they don't even have ingredient lists on their pre-packaged food, or they don't think to look at the ingredients of sauces and such. I'm always being told that the lemon butter or garlic butter is safe, and yet it ends up not being real butter, OR the garlic was stored in soy oil, or some such. I encourage everyone with food allergies and sensitivities to challenge every restaurant they pass by... to constantly request equal access... to continue to educate the uneducated.

 
Christy
Rating: ratingfullratingfullratingfullratingfullratingfull Unrated
said this on
23 Jul 2015 8:51:14 AM PST
I have Gluten Ataxia, an autoimmune that attacks my cerebellum causing brain damage. As much as I hate to admit it, it is like being handicapped. I love Red Robin, Cheeseburger Paradise and Bagger Dave's and Ruby Tuesdays places where I can feel safe. If a restaurant does not appear to know what they are doing, I have them bring me the containers or take me into their kitchen where I can read them. The worst was at Applebees who claims to have options safe for GF. I order straight vegetables and in the bowl near the bottom is a piece of pasta. Apparently they put their pasta right next to their veggies in their line. And upon complaining to the manager, I am told that his line order is determined by corporate and their is nothing he can do. I should have made them pay for my emergency room visit to get a high dose steroid. You can bet I now ask more questions like where my food is being prepped and what is around it that can cross contaminate.

 
maverita
Rating: ratingfullratingfullratingfullratingfullratingfull Unrated
said this on
11 Feb 2013 2:14:58 PM PST
Our government has not done enough to keep pollution out of our air and water and soils. I grew up downwind of the above ground nuclear testing sites in the southwest. The air was filled with the aroma of petroleum. The information that cigarettes and liquor were unhealthy for forming fetuses was hidden by tobacco and liquor corporations, so my mother smoked and drank all the way through her pregnancies. I blame my allergies on the systematic destruction of our environment by corporations and government. SO, YES, I think that food allergies are a legitimate handicap. Anyone who does not think so should walk in my shoes for a few weeks.

 
Michael
Rating: ratingfullratingfullratingfullratingfullratingfull Unrated
said this on
11 Feb 2013 3:37:07 PM PST
If colleges and universities require any students to pay for room and board, to require that someone with celiac disease pay for such room and board, while not offering safe meals, they are obviously blatantly discriminating against us. Furthermore, such action is obvious extortion, and forcing someone to pay to be poisoned is the height of absurdity. Celiac disease is a disability, and that issue has already been settled.

 
Kerrey
Rating: ratingfullratingfullratingfullratingfullratingempty Unrated
said this on
12 Feb 2013 4:52:14 AM PST
I agree, Michael. My daughter is attending college now. Although they say they have gluten-free options, she has run into situations where contamination was an issue. She has also found that the dedicated gluten-free station does not always have the greatest choices. It's usually rice and some kind of tofu choice. Not always too appetizing. We pay quite a bit of money for her room and board. It would be nice to know that there is a more serious effort to provide for students with celiac disease, gluten sensitivity, or even other food related allergies. I think a better effort needs to be made by these colleges.

 
Cherri
Rating: ratingfullratingfullratingfullratingfullratingempty Unrated
said this on
11 Feb 2013 4:25:23 PM PST
Right wing extremists don't believe in taking care of the disabled in the first place, so this total lack of compassion is not a surprise from Fox. Being gluten intolerant, I can pick my way through menus to find food to eat. Celiacs have to be even more vigilant. It's a shame the government has to step in to get a college to accommodate this disorder. But the ignorant lack of compassion of Spakovsky's reaction says it all, doesn't it?! The government has to step in just because of people like him in the first place.

 
Heidi Hiatt
Rating: ratingfullratingfullratingfullratingfullratingfull Unrated
said this on
11 Feb 2013 5:55:24 PM PST
Jefferson-- Thank you for making me aware of this. I'm surprised I didn't catch it on FOX's website already. I appreciate all of the work you do on behalf of those with celiac and other conditions.

I just posted my thoughts on this at my blog and will be sending a copy to Mr. von Spakovsky. The issue here is the role of the government more than having empathy for food allergic people, but there has to be some recognition under the ADA or it's not being applied fairly.

 
Jane
Rating: ratingfullratingfullratingfullratingemptyratingempty Unrated
said this on
11 Feb 2013 7:18:52 PM PST
I Do believe that schools, hospitals, nursing homes and any other institution that is providing food for large numbers of people who have few or no other resources Should accommodate those with food allergies. HOWEVER, to call a food allergy a disability opens a GIANT can of worms when it comes to public expense and responsibility. Calling it a disability puts people in line for a large variety of benefits that the working class have to pay for. And where does the line get drawn with such a BROAD number of food allergies out there? From commonly used to rarely used foods. As with other "disabilities" Should someone with a "food allergy" to radishes be deserving of government medical care, housing assistance, etc, etc. Yeah, THAT SEEMS silly, but THINK about ALL of the repercussions to labeling something as a DISABILITY.

 
Annalise

said this on
08 May 2013 8:08:57 AM PST
Celiac disease is not a food allergy... part of the process is to maintain a gluten-free diet. So celiac disease, which is known to damage the bowels and intestines would be the disability. I don't think it should be listed as a disability, however, I think it's important to educate yourself prior to posting on a site about celiac disease if you do not know what it is.

 
sc'Que?
Rating: ratingfullratingfullratingfullratingfullratingempty Unrated
said this on
12 Feb 2013 1:17:32 AM PST
At the most conservative level, this is really only an issue worthy of federal mitigation if students are forced to purchase a meal plan. If this is not the case, then perhaps families should be permitted to apply for federal aid to assist students with debilitating food intolerance.

 
Donna
Rating: ratingfullratingfullratingfullratingfullratingfull Unrated
said this on
12 Feb 2013 8:26:48 AM PST
I too have celiac disease and attend college courses. I have to accommodate myself by bringing in my own meals/snacks. If I should forget to bring something, I have very little choice to eat that day at class. Yes, DoJ should get involved to provide equal rights in the college/universities for those who suffer from food allergies. Many do NOT know or understand the severity of food allergy issues.

 
rastas
Rating: ratingfullratingfullratingemptyratingemptyratingempty Unrated
said this on
12 Feb 2013 10:03:27 AM PST
I have celiac disease, I do not consider myself handicapped or disabled. Would it be awesome if everywhere I went had gluten-free options and were knowledgeable about cross contamination? YES. Do I really think that can happen? NO. I know that university cafeterias have people that care, but they are largely staffed by students that don't give a rip; I'm not going to trust them to not contaminate my food. Maybe the best option is just to talk to the food services director and see if something can be done on an individual basis instead of mandating an entire menu/area for about 1% of the student population.

 
Cat
Rating: ratingfullratingemptyratingemptyratingemptyratingempty Unrated
said this on
04 Mar 2013 2:57:01 PM PST
I also have celiac disease. I travel for a living. What's most difficult is trying to find just enough food to keep me in ONE meal a day - without having to haul bread that weighs as much as a brick every time I go somewhere. I've been left with MULTIPLE deficiencies due to malnutrition by not being diagnosed early. So YES, celiac disease is a true disease and carries many health issues with it. Spend some time in Europe - or Brazil as an example. ALL foods are properly labelled and marketed and restaurant staff are very well informed about foods and what they can do to some people. I'm Canadian. We have many areas at the University of Toronto as an example, where students can go to eat if they're ridden with food allergies... unfortunately, celiac disease still hasn't been properly addressed. However, I can say that Toronto is a blooming metropolis of epicure and knowledgeable chefs.

I challenge von Spakovsky to eat like we MUST eat every day for a month... but better yet, let's put a drop of arsenic or other poison in his food each meal and each coffee. He'll get the idea soon enough.

 
gen
Rating: ratingfullratingfullratingfullratingfullratingfull Unrated
said this on
12 Feb 2013 11:52:55 AM PST
Yes, celiac disease is a handicap and should be
considered a federal disability.

 
Iris
Rating: ratingfullratingfullratingfullratingfullratingempty Unrated
said this on
12 Feb 2013 12:03:12 PM PST
Celiacs face a real dilemma, trying to eat gluten-free in gluten-full environments. Yet the best means to address the need is not to mandate something from the federal level which will only give cause to raise the price of a university education. (Think $500 hammer!) The approach of "reasonable accommodations" could be explored - providing kitchens or allowing minimal cooking in dorm rooms (crock pots, etc), dedicating at least one university restaurant to allergy-free meals (many universities have food courts), providing transportation and discounts at local allergy-free restaurants...
It sometimes takes persistence and being the "squeaky wheel" to have a need recognized, but the best solution is NOT having the government step in.

 
Lori
Rating: ratingfullratingemptyratingemptyratingemptyratingempty Unrated
said this on
12 Feb 2013 6:48:31 PM PST
Having celiac disease is a major health issue. It is a disability when you cannot eat safely outside of your home due to the fear of cross contamination. When paying to go to a private university, a student with celiac disease should absolutely have access to food prepared safely.
I could not disagree with you more Mr. Hans von Spakovsky!

 
Beverly
Rating: ratingfullratingfullratingfullratingfullratingfull Unrated
said this on
13 Feb 2013 5:44:53 AM PST
Celiac disease IS a disability and YES colleges who mandate students purchase a meal plan should be held responsible for providing food for students with food allergies. All food handlers should undergo mandatory food allergen training. The cost of higher education is astronomical. To think you are paying for a meal plan that you cannot use is like paying for a mandatory gym membership for your pet. Would you do that?

 
nicole
Rating: ratingfullratingfullratingfullratingfullratingfull Unrated
said this on
14 Feb 2013 6:59:13 AM PST
Celiacs disease becomes a disability when one's choices of schools are limited by their food intolerances. It is something we cannot control and makes you feel like a freak when it is not understood.

 
Nancy
Rating: ratingfullratingfullratingfullratingemptyratingempty Unrated
said this on
23 Feb 2013 10:33:28 AM PST
I find it very discouraging to go to a store to try to find gluten-free foods in one place (it is a form of discrimination to have them scattered all over the store if, indeed, they have any). They put all of the ethnic foods in their own separate areas and all together. Many restaurants "claim" to follow your instructions when after eating the so called "safe" food only to be sick after that! It is very discouraging!!! As for schools, they do not allow peanuts because of the allergic reaction to some of the children - don't Celiac patients fit into the same category?

 
Nancy
Rating: ratingfullratingfullratingfullratingemptyratingempty Unrated
said this on
23 Feb 2013 10:41:49 AM PST
Gluten-free food options should be available at all restaurants and at all grocery stores. It is becoming more prevalent than ever and it is difficult for school children as well as adults!

 
Caitlin
Rating: ratingfullratingfullratingfullratingemptyratingempty Unrated
said this on
16 Apr 2013 3:46:34 AM PST
My main concern is the title of your article. Celiac disease is very specifically NOT an allergy. It is an auto immune disease. And the DoJ seems excessive to bring them in, but what are they there for? In the end, when you want your justice and no one will help, who is the department working FOR us to make sure we get taken care of? DoJ... So yes, in the end it IS their business.

 
Armanda

said this on
30 Jun 2014 7:42:10 AM PST
Every one is right it is really hard to eat at a college because I have celiac disease and the college that I'm going to does not accommodate for people who have celiac disease because I had asked them when I started there and they told me no that they don't have anything that is gluten free except for maybe fruit. That's the main reason why I can not stay on campus because they do not have any food that I can eat its just like going out to a restaurant to eat its hard because so many restaurants are ignorant about the allergy . So I agree with the people who said that colleges should accommodate for the ones who have celiac disease. Many colleges are very ignorant with celiac disease that's why I'm going to college to become a dietitian and to get my PhD so I can travel around to different colleges and schools to explain about the disease and to get them to understand how important it is to have gluten free food for people who have celiac disease. I also agree with the people who said that its a form of discrimination to have the gluten free food all over the place and then you can't find it. I have gone to 2 colleges here in Florida neither of them accommodate for people with celiac disease.




Rate this article and leave a comment:
Rating: * Poor Excellent
Your Name *: Email (private) *: