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Facing Legal Pressure, More Colleges Provide Gluten-free Food Options

Celiac.com 03/29/2013 - Parents of children with food allergies can take heart in recent developments at the federal level that are mandating changes in the ways colleges and universities address food-allergy issues in their students.

Photo: CC--wallygA recent federal civil rights settlement between the Department of Justice and Lesley University that arose from Lesley's failure to provide gluten-free food shows that traditional one-style-fits-all dining options are no longer an ­option for our institutions of higher learning.

The settlement requires Lesley to “continually provide” students with gluten-free dining options and pay $50,000 in damages to ensure the university is in compliance with a federal law that protects people with disabilities.

As a result, more and more universities are scrambling to make safe food alternatives available to students with severe food allergies, including those with celiac disease, as required by the under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

This adjustment includes gluten-free food offerings, and colleges and universities in Massachusetts are among the first to attempt the adjustment. Their approaches differ slightly, but the goal is to provide a safe, reliable dining experience to students with food allergies.

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The University of Massachusetts Boston and Boston University have created gluten-free zones in cafeterias and food courts, while others are taking a more individual approach. Tufts and Harvard University, for example, are having nutritionists and dining hall staff work with students to figure out what prepared foods can and cannot be eaten and ordering specialty items as necessary.

Tufts' plan also includes establishing a dedicated freezer-refrigerator unit in its two dining halls that is stocked with gluten-free foods. The units are kept locked, and only students with special dietary needs are given keys

UMass Amherst publishes dining hall menus online, and identifies gluten-free offerings with a special icon. The school also has an extensive handout on what foods to avoid and whom to contact if students need gluten-free food.

About a year ago, UMass Boston created a gluten-free zone in its food court, with a dedicated refrigerator, microwave, and toaster to minimize the risk of contamination.

Look for the trend to continue as more and more colleges deal with the new legal realities of feeding students who have food allergies.

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2 Responses:

 
ACurtis
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said this on
01 Apr 2013 12:38:43 PM PDT
I would say that the biggest challenge colleges and universities will face (other than cross-contamination) will be students who don't understand the necessity that the appliances remain totally dedicated for those students with food issues. Will the dining room(s) for those with food issues be locked, and only those with issues will be allowed to use them? Will friends who don't have issues be allowed to dine with those who do? Will those same friends adhere to the strict necessity of no cross-contamination of either the food or the appliances? I didn't have to worry about food issues in college because I didn't discover my gluten intolerance until I was older. But I would have pushed to be allowed/able to afford to live off campus, in my own space, so that I could have controlled my own food and appliances. But even if a student can afford their own place, they will still need to be able to grab a snack to go--and that snack needs to conform to what they can/cannot have. I applaud the fact that more attention is being paid to this issue.

 
Christine
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said this on
02 Apr 2013 1:18:42 PM PDT
GOOD!!! I wish this ruling would apply to all employers that involve food as a job hazard (nursing homes, etc). Just because we have celiac disease doesn't mean we don't have rights.




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I wanted to collect some of the info on NCGI in one place so that visitors who test negative but may still have an issue with gluten can be directed there. I'll add to this post as I find new links, but feel free to add or contribute anything you think may be of use! Matt --- Useful links: An overview from Alessio Fasano, one of the world's leading researchers on celiac and gluten sensitivity: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VvfTV57iPUY A scholarly overview from celiac disease magazine: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Knut_Lundin/publication/232528784_Non-celiac_Gluten_Sensitivity/links/09e415098bbe37c05b000000.pdf A good overview from a sceptical but fair perspective: https://sciencebasedmedicine.org/a-balanced-look-at-gluten-sensitivity/ Another overview: https://celiac.org/celiac-disease/understanding-celiac-disease-2/non-celiac-gluten-sensitivity-2/ University of Chicago's excellent celiac site's take: http://www.cureceliacdisease.org/category/faq-non-celiac-gluten-sensitivity/ A compelling account in the British Medical Journal from an NCGI patient: http://www.bmj.com/content/345/bmj.e7982 Here's some positive news about a potential new test: http://www.medicaldaily.com/non-celiac-gluten-insensitivity-blood-test-392850 NCGI in children: NCGI and auto immune study: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26026392 Also consider: Fodmaps: http://www.kcl.ac.uk/lsm/research/divisions/dns/projects/fodmaps/faq.aspx This Monash study: http://fodmapmonash.blogspot.co.uk/2015/03/the-truth-behind-non-celiac-gluten.html suggested some who think they're reacting to gluten should actually be reducing fodmaps Sibo: http://www.webmd.boots.com/digestive-disorders/small-intestinal-bacteria-sibo

I was just diagnosed in March and I totally feel you. I'm having a hard enough time with determining which lip glosses are safe, let alone all my face products etc. I feel like this 'grey area' is the biggest annoyance with Celiac. So many foods/cosmetics I thought were safe after reading the ingredient list are actually not safe at all! One website says it's safe, one says its not. All these unfamiliar ingredients and even after googling term after term still so many grey areas!! I'm sure in time it gets easier and second nature and you learn by trial and error but holy this constant uncertainty is super annoying haha.

This place is great. Learning a lot. Honestly, I've known people with celiacs in the past, but it never occurred to me that that's what could be wrong with me. But the more I learn, the more it fits. One more thought, the articles I'm reading seem to say that we need to avoid gluten meticulously. I'm certain that I didn't accidentally eat gluten, because I've basically only eaten meat and veggies. But, my family has continued eating as normal. My kids making pancakes and it getting in the air, toast with all the crumbs everywhere, etc. Could that exposure be enough to keep my blood antibodies high? Or does it need to be ingested?

Hey, I had Hashi's some 15 years prior to my celiac disease diagnosis. My doc put me on a very lose dose of Armour. It did bring down my antibodies (by half), but they were extremely high to begin with (anything over 30 was positive and mine initially were close to 4,000). My nodules and enlargement stayed constant. Both actually went away since I have been gluten free! Like Gemini, I am on Armour for life! But that's okay. Just had my TPO checked yesterday, in fact, and now the number is 360. So, better, but that lab range is anything over 15 is positive. No reappearance of the nodules or enlargement. I am also on a low carb high fat diet to treat my diabetes too.

Yes! Call University of Chicago! Switching you from one medication that's not working to another and back again isn't helping you. It's definitely time to look at something else. I'm so sorry that you're not feeling better.