Requests for gluten-free foods likely to increase

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WASHINGTON — Whether the government is involved or not, schools and other food service establishments are likely to hear from those who want more gluten-free foods.

Dhanu Thiyagarajan, a sophomore at the University of Pittsburgh, says she decided to speak up when she arrived at school and lost weight because there were too few gluten-free options available. Like many schools, the University of Pittsburgh requires on-campus students participate in a meal plan.

Thiyagarajan eventually moved off campus so she could cook her own food, but not before starting an organization of students who suffer from wheat allergies like hers. She says she is now working with food service at the school and they have made a lot of progress, though not enough for her to move back on campus.

L. Scott Lissner, the disability coordinator at Ohio State University, says he has seen similar situations at his school, though people with food allergies have not traditionally thought of themselves as disabled. He says schools will eventually have to do more than just exempt students from a meal plan.

“This is an early decision on a growing wave of needs that universities are going to have to address,” he says.

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