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  1. Celiac.com 01/24/2017 - Coming from homes where gluten-free food is abundant and taken for granted, many college students struggle with maintaining their diets during their time on campus. That struggle is the focus of numerous efforts by campuses nationwide to provide solid, reliable and abundant gluten-free food options for their students. At a place like SMU, that can include kitchen dining halls that serve gluten-free foods, or gluten-free pantry in Umphrey Lee. To help students be more conscious about their food choices SMU posts the daily menus on its website, along with nutritional facts for each item. There are different icons such as Eat Well, Fat Free, Low Sodium, Vegetarian, and Vegan, but as yet, no Gluten-Free icon. SMU does offer students access to a campus dietitian, who can help them figure out how to eat a balanced diet on campus, and grant them access to the gluten-free pantry or help in special cases. Read more at: smudailycampus.com.
  2. At the start of the 2016 academic year, Kent State University becomes the first university in the country to feature an entirely gluten-free dining hall on campus. Kent State restructured Prentice Café after administrators noticed that the number of students arriving on campus with gluten intolerance was rising each year. The new dining facility will meet the ever-increasing demand for gluten-free foods. An estimated 3 million Americans suffer from celiac disease, a genetic autoimmune disorder that affects the digestive process. When a person who has celiac disease consumes gluten, the individual’s immune system attacks the small intestine and inhibits the body’s ability to absorb important nutrients. Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye and barley. It is essential for those with celiac disease and sensitivity to gluten to avoid products containing these ingredients. Some individuals who have not been diagnosed with an allergy or sensitivity to gluten also choose to restrict their gluten intake as a personal preference. Until recently, however, it has often been difficult to find suitable gluten-free food options, especially when dining away from home. Kent State aims to make college life easier for students who need or prefer gluten-free foods. At Prentice Café, all menu items are gluten-free. Although many campuses offer gluten-free products and some even offer gluten-free stations in their dining halls, Kent State is the first campus to offer an entire dining hall that is certified gluten-free. "Students’ needs have always been our top priority," said Rich Roldan, director of university dining services at Kent State. "Students have enough to worry about - they should not havve to worry about their food being safe to eat. It is important they can eat in a safe environment, which is why we decided to make Prentice Café a gluten-free dining location." Prentice Café earned certification from the Gluten-Free Food Services Certification Program, a food safety program offered through the Gluten Intolerance Group. The Gluten Intolerance Group is a nonprofit organization dedicated to empowering the gluten-free community through consumer support, advocacy and education. Although gluten intolerance has gained attention in recent years, it can still be challenging to address the needs of students who have celiac disease or sensitivity to gluten. One issue is students’ reluctance to self-identify as gluten intolerant. Students are sometimes self-conscious about special dietary needs and often prefer not to feel singled out when dining on campus. This was something administrators considered when developing Prentice Café. "It’s important for students who have celiac disease or gluten intolerance to be able to have a safe location where they can go and not have to worry," explained Megan Brzuski, Kent State’s dining services dietitian. "There are many different menu items and options available for students to choose from at Prentice Café." Anyone is welcome to dine at Prentice Café, which is open Monday through Thursday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and on Fridays from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. In addition to every item being gluten-free, the menu also features a variety of vegan and vegetarian dishes, as well as foods that support a healthy lifestyle. The café accepts meal plans, cash and credit cards. Prentice Café opened on Aug. 29, the first day of the fall semester. A grand opening celebration will be held on Sept. 7 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Students, faculty, staff and all members of the Kent State community are invited to attend the event, which will include opportunities to sample items, as well as educational displays and prizes. The Gluten-Free Food Service Certification Program, a program of the Gluten Intolerance Group, is a proven model of established best practices for food service establishments offering gluten-free options. Certifications and protocols are customized to the specific needs of each food service establishment who works with the Gluten-Free Food Service Certification Program, including considered factors such as facility size, number of locations and the type of food establishment. For more information about the Gluten-Free Food Service Certification program, visit www.gffoodservice.org. For more information about Kent State’s Dining Services, visit www.kent.edu/dining.
  3. Celiac.com 06/13/2014 - As the number of students eating gluten-free continues to rise, colleges and universities are scrambling to keep up with an increasing demand for gluten-free options. The latest news comes from the University of Wisconsin, where the Net Nutrition program enables students with food allergies to more easily navigate the cafeteria. The program allows people to screen for allergens and food intolerance, and offers an easy way to subtract menu items a person cannot have, she said. UW’s dining halls have incorporated gluten-free items such as pizza, pasta, deserts and various baked goods, while Union South has also incorporated gluten-free options at its restaurants. The result has been a dramatic increase in the number of gluten-free UW student food options. Still, for best results, students need to get involved, says Barbara Kautz, faculty adviser for the Gluten-Free Badgers student organization. Katz calls student self-advocacy the most important factor in making gluten-free options available on campus. That means that interested UW students should call ahead if they plan to attend UW-hosted events that serve food. Once alerted, food services will be sure to provide a gluten-free option, Katz says. Kautz says she is pushing to have gluten-tolerance status included in the admission paperwork UW collects for each student.
  4. Celiac.com 05/24/2012 - The old, cafeteria-style dining campus hall is fast becoming a thing of the past. Today’s students are bringing their more sophisticated palates and health-related concerns to campuses and schools are stepping up to accommodate them. Driven by these new consumer demands, and more creative management, more and more campus dining halls are beginning to resemble restaurants, featuring selections that reflect world cuisine and emerging food trends. Students are "becoming more sophisticated customers," says Joe Wojtowicz, general manager of Sodexo, Inc.'s Crossroads dining room at Concordia University Chicago in River Forest. These days, it's common for students to press staff about food options, especially questions about celiac disease, gluten-intolerance, food allergies and vegetarian preferences. More and more are moving to accommodate dietary restrictions like vegetarian, Kosher or halal, or putting gluten-free or lactose-free choices on their menus. From higher quality ingredients, such as free-range eggs, humanely raised meats, and fresh, locally produced produce, dining halls are increasingly offering more exotic options like Cuban, Chinese, or Thai dishes. “It’s not just spaghetti for Italian and tacos for Mexican,” said Rachel Warner, marketing director for the National Association of College and University Food Services. Many colleges are hiring restaurant chefs, dieticians and nutritionists to oversee the dining hall operations and some are even customizing meals to meet individual student needs or preferences. “I think that the shift in dining is really driven by the consumers. They come in with higher expectations and are increasingly savvy about the world around them and the different kinds of food,” says Warner. More and more, this higher level of student awareness and expectation is driving camp offerings. At DePaul University, students were asked to vote on whether a particular brand of hummus was suitable at their school. At Northwestern University, students recently enjoyed a “cruise night” offering food of the tropics. At Loyola University Chicago, students drink hormone-free milk. Students at Northewestern University can choose from numerous kosher options. One university in Texas offers a vegan dining hall and a Colorado school has a station dedicated to Persian cuisine. According to Warner, “Students are coming in and they do want to have a little bit more say and more options.” These dining hall improvements are yielding benefits not just to students, but to their communities. In 2011, Wheaton College was ranked by the Princeton Review as having the best campus food in America. The dining services are run by Bon Appetit management company. Raul Delgado, general manager of Wheaton College’s dining services, says “When you look at this, the farthest thing from your mind is a cafeteria…This is a restaurant. And like any restaurant, it’s open to the general public. Esther Howerzyl, 68, who biked to Wheaton from St. Charles with a group of friends, says the food is "very organic health food and I like all the seeds, the variety of seeds.” Do you have experience with these evolving campus dining trends, especially as they relate to gluten-free options? If so, please comment below. Also read a related article: Schools Offering Better Food Options for Students with Celiac Disease, Other Food Concerns.
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