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Living gluten-free at UFV: Sodexo manager says Celiac-friendly options potentially available

Though people living with Celiac Disease (CD)—a digestive disease that requires those affected to avoid gluten or suffer damage to their small intestine—are faced with severe dietary limitations when dining out, there has been an upsurge of Celiac-friendly options within the last decade. However, a look at the offerings within UFV’s cafeteria revealed an absence of gluten-free choices. According to Douglas Fowler, Sodexo food services general manager at UFV, this is a the result of a lack of demand rather than a lack of concern.

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By Leanna Pankratz (Contributor) – Email

Date Posted: October 15, 2011
Print Edition: October 12, 2011

Though people living with Celiac Disease (CD)—a digestive disease that requires those affected to avoid gluten or suffer damage to their small intestine—are faced with severe dietary limitations when dining out, there has been an upsurge of Celiac-friendly options within the last decade. However, a look at the offerings within UFV’s cafeteria revealed an absence of gluten-free choices. According to Douglas Fowler, Sodexo food services general manager at UFV, this is a the result of a lack of demand rather than a lack of concern.

More than ever before, the presence of CD is being acknowledged, as well as the importance of gluten-free food options being easily available, and there are a growing number of resources available for members of the population dealing with Celiac. Numerous blogs and websites (notably Hold the Gluten and Glutenfreeda) offer recipes and tips that make living with CD a little bit easier and a lot more delicious.

With such a growth in awareness, one would expect that gluten-free options would become available to students. The UFV cafeteria offers a wide array of food, including sandwiches, wraps and baked goods – most of which are made with wheat. Because CD is caused by an intestinal reaction to the gluten protein in wheat (as well as in rye, barley and triticale) this significantly affects what cafeteria products a student living with CD is able to consume.

Tamara C., a UFV student who has CD, found the apparent lack of gluten-free cafeteria food “a little disappointing.”

“There’s a lot of options out there for people with Celiac, and those options are exactly what makes life with the disease a lot more convenient. When there are no options, there’s really no choice but to make other arrangements. I sometimes wish I could just buy myself a gluten-free meal at school, but I have to bring one from home that I’ve made myself,” she continued.

Fowler emphasized that gluten-free options (as well as options accommodating many other heath or religious dietary requirements) are certainly available to UFV students if they make their needs known. “The campus and healthcare divisions within Sodexo are merged…so we can draw on some of our healthcare strengths,” he explained. Since signing with a new vendor, many Celiac-friendly food options have become potentially available to the cafeteria, including a pizza with a gluten-free crust – all students living with CD have to do to get their needs met is to make them known.

Fowler expressed that he was very open to accommodating Celiac-affected students on the levels of both variety and price. “I don’t think it’s fair, because people have Celiac, that they should be penalized on a price basis,” he noted.

Fowler invited students who require special dietary accommodations to contact him personally with any questions, concerns, or requests they may have regarding their food options at UFV. “That’s our job. We’re here to meet needs,” he stated. “Even if there is one person [affected by CD], and they want to eat here, I’m going to find a way of feeding them.”

Students may contact Fowler at Douglas.Fowler@sodexo.com.

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