The Celiac Disease Foundation, which has been raising awareness of the disorder since 1990, reported 1 in 133 Americans have celiac disease.
Symptoms occur when someone who has the disease eats gluten, found in wheat, rye and barley. Sufferers may experience abdominal pain, behavioral changes or other intestinal problems.
Universities requiring meal plans for on-campus students are now being targeted with federal disabilities lawsuits when gluten-free options are not provided.
“Universities should accommodate these allergies and provide options to students,” said Michelle Johnson, an Eastern Michigan University junior in the nursing program. “Especially since it isn’t their choice.”
According to The Detroit News, a student at Lesley University in Cambridge, Mass., complained the school did not offer these options and still woul dnot exempt him from a meal plan.
Apparently, institutions and businesses are being targeted for not giving choices.
“Eastern, as a public university, should be required to provide these options,” said Darnell Bostic, a sophomore in English linguistics. “But private businesses shouldn’t. You can’t have somebody pay for a meal plan when later they can’t eat the food anyway.”
The dining centers at EMU that have started offering gluten-free options display orange signs with a “G,” making them easy to spot for those with gluten intolerance.
“We’re five years ahead of Lesley University,” said Thomas Murray, executive chef for EMU’s dining services.
EMU’s dining services actually provides a whole schedule for people with severe food allergies. Anybody who contacts dining services with food allergies can fill out a form evaluating the severity of their allergies and noting any preferences, and the Commons will
provide specialized meals Monday through Friday.
“We provide special meals for about a dozen students,” Murray said.
Some students are very supportive of the school and its efforts to accommodate allergies.
“Showing if something contains gluten or not is a good thing,” said freshman Angelica Arriola, a nursing major. “I think they do a good job.”
For specific questions relating to dietary needs, visit the dining services website or visit the office under the Commons.
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