Congratulations to Kent State University in Ohio for being the first college to open an entirely gluten free dining hall!
I just hope more colleges follow suit in the coming years.
I've been optimistic that our own Celiac son, now 13, will have ample choices when it comes to his big college decision. After all, as a parent, you hope that your child will be able to choose a college based on all the typical criteria (academic reputation, courses of study, location, affordability) and dozens of other personal preferences -- rather than solely based on where they'll be able to eat safely for four years.
Granted, more and more colleges have started labeling gluten free choices -- and are even well-versed in how to avoid cross contamination in the preparation of gluten free meals. Others have separate stations for gluten free. But, alas, most colleges still have a long way to go.
To hear this news from Kent State sets the bar higher, and, in my opinion, where it should be -- and could be -- at colleges all over the U.S. After all, even at the smallest colleges, there are always multiple dining halls. Why not dedicate one to gluten free students? Then -- albeit with proper training -- there's never a question about whether gluten free students will be safe.
With rigorous course loads and sometimes even part-time jobs, college students can't afford to be sick. They simply can't be in bed for days and miss class. I applaud Kent State's effort to shine the limelight on this need and hope that other forward-thinking universities take their lead.
After all, with 1% of the population suffering from Celiac -- and 7-8% of the population affected by "wheat sensitivity" (up until recently called "gluten sensitivity") -- this is a challenge that affects many...and one that's not going away. Read more about Kent State's program on their website.
If you or someone you know is gluten free and attending college, please have them share a review of their experience dining at college on our website's Gluten Free College Reviews page. Scroll to the bottom of the page to find an orange button that says, "Submit Your Own Review Now." Follow the prompts like you would for submitting a restaurant review, but choose "College" when prompted for the type of venue.