O’Donovan Hall is a favorite target of criticism for almost all students. Many lament its limited options and general lack of nutritious options, but this criticism is especially relevant for those with specific allergies and dietary restrictions.

Although it is obviously difficult to prepare large quantities of food — allergy-free or not — those who have these dietary needs should not simply fall by the wayside.

This is especially apparent for those who are gluten-free, a condition that requires an especially concerted effort to remain uncontaminated. While Leo’s provides a small gluten-free section located on the bottom floor on the far right side, this section is, in many ways, inadequate for anyone who relies on Leo’s for most meals.

When the section’s refrigerator is stocked — which is often not the case — the gluten-free food available in this section is simply not nutritionally adequate. It mostly hosts muffins, waffles, doughnuts and bread, all of which have little nutritional value and high sugar and fat contents.

Although other gluten-free foods in the rest of Leo’s, such as the grilled chicken station or salad bar, offer alternatives, these options boast little variety and are not enforced as completely gluten-free — unlike options that are deemed to be vegetarian.

Furthermore, gluten-free options are restricted to mealtimes, leaving gluten-free students unable to stop by mid-morning or mid-afternoon to eat, — unlike all other students, who have options at all hours.

Given the cost and mandate of Leo’s dining plans, each enrollee is right to expect that well-stocked, nutritious options will be available.

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2 Comments

  1. Approximately 1 in every 133 Americans has Celiac Disease, the only known reason for which it is medically necessary to avoid gluten. Assuming there are 7000 undergraduates on campus (which is a fairly high estimate), only about 50 students genuinely need special dietary options to help them avoid gluten. The rest of the gluten-free crowd, frankly, is following the latest fad dieting trend and does not actually need to avoid gluten at all.

    Further, even if there were a large number of students who needed a second gluten-free station, there’s no reason for the “gluten-free” section to offer much more than just bread-based items (muffins, waffles, etc…). The author might do well to note that gluten almost entirely comes from these foods; pasta, noodles, breads, and crackers are the top sources of gluten listed on the Celiac Disease Foundation’s website. There is simply no need for a “gluten-free” version of every food at Leo’s – most foods at Leo’s are probably gluten-free already.

    There are a myriad of problems with Leo’s, but this isn’t really one of them.

    • Even if a problem only affects a small portion of the student body, it should still be addressed – especially when it comes to something as important to the daily routine and human functioning as food. For the 50 (maybe more!) Celiacs and those with gluten allergies, being able to eat at Leo’s is a big concern – especially if you’re paying upwards of $2000 to do it.

      It’s difficult for someone without a dietary restriction to understand just what someone goes through when they are bound by one. Imagine walking into Leo’s and having to plan a well-rounded meal considering pizza, sandwiches, chicken fingers, french fries, fried foods, tacos, pasta and stir fry are not options. Wouldn’t YOU want options? “Most foods at Leo’s are probably gluten-free already” is a classic statement from someone who clearly does not have a full understanding of this issue and cannot speak for those who deal with it every day. We aren’t asking for everything at Leo’s to be made gluten free, but rather a wider variety of options that aren’t just frozen and packaged (quinoa and the baked potato bar have been wonderful!).

      To the author of this article, THANK YOU for continuing this important conversation!

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