Dining’s gluten-free epidemic

Colleen Welch
Staff Writer

I have just started here at Millersville University three weeks ago. I live on campus, so I eat on campus too.

Unfortunately, I have Celiac disease and have to eat gluten-free foods otherwise I get very sick. I was told coming into this school that Millersville offers gluten-free options, but I was greatly disappointed after finding out what the dining halls really offer.

Coming into a new environment with strict diet restrictions I knew would be difficult and I knew at points it would be frustrating. However, if I am living on campus and will be eating here, I would like to bring attention to some of the problems I have been having.

anchorThis first night I went to the Galley to ask about gluten-free options, which was during Orientation, they told me they had gluten-free breads, but most of it was left over from last semester. I understand that me being gluten-free makes me a minority, but I don’t think that means that I should have leftover food when all the other students get fresh bread.

Several days later, I went to get a sandwich and they didn’t have any white gluten-free bread at all, and the other bread they had had been sitting in the freezer the entire summer. If they did not buy new bread this semester, I’m not sure when they plan on it.

When I went to the Upper Deck, the chef was kind enough to show me the gluten-free area, along with the toaster, microwave, and freezer. He also told me there are gluten-free pizzas available too by request.

I love the idea of the gluten-free section, but after eating there for a week or two and starting to finish off some of the foods, I noticed none of it was being replaced, and the microwave only cooked my food halfway through. Though I like the idea, I don’t want to be paying the same price for dining as all the other students when my food is simply microwaved and something I could easily make in my room.

I like to go to the Anchor for salads, and they are usually a go-to option for people on a gluten-free diet. I asked a worker behind the sandwich making station if they had any gluten-free bread and she said that they did. So, from the Anchor a few times I’ve ordered sandwiches and have had no problem.

A few days later, I went in and ordered what I usually order, but when I opened up the sandwich, there was different bread. It looked almost like a burger bun or a bagel, and when I took a bite it did not taste gluten-free at all. I had a few more bites to make sure, and I decided against it.

loaves-of-breadLater that night, I actually did end up getting sick off the bread the worker gave me. After that incident, it looks like I will be sticking to salads from now on.

That brings up another issue. Usually the workers are very friendly or will get their chief to explain something to me. However several times I’ve asked someone for their gluten-free options either people don’t know what I’m taking about, they roll their eyes, or they ask me if I really need to eat gluten-free or if it’s just a diet that I’m on.

Several people have seemed frustrated with me if I come to them at a particularly busy time but if I’m hungry, why can’t I go eat when my friends eat? Why do I need to eat before or after the rush when all the other students can go whenever they would like?

I feel the need to bring these issues to light because I know I’m not the only gluten-free person on campus. In the three weeks I’ve been here, I have been eating the same three things for each meal and I have gotten sick twice. My dad invested in a refrigerator, a microwave, and a freezer for my room along with 2 plastic bins full of food so I don’t get too hungry.

One day last week, I contacted the director of Millersville Dining about my concerns of their lack of gluten-free options in the dining halls. As of right now, I frustratingly have had no response from anyone in Dining.

I don’t want to be living out of my microwave for the next few months or so and I would love to see some improvement in Millersville’s gluten-free options.