No more wheat please

As the number of UVM students following strict gluten-free diets increases, UVM Dining Services is working to meet their dietary needs.Gluten includes barley, rye, wheat and often oats, and must be avoided by people who have Celiac Disease or other digestive problems, according to the Celiac Disease Foundation’s website.According to the website, the disease is a lifelong digestive disorder affecting children and adults where even minimal consumption of gluten leads to damage in the small intestine and does not allow food to be properly absorbed.”We have a growing number of students with gluten-free dietary needs on our campus,” Paul Bahan, director of marketing for Sodexho Campus Services, said.Bahan said that gluten-free dining options are available in all three Resident Dining locations —Simpson, Harris Millis and Cook — in designated areas with separate microwaves and toasters.Despite UVM’s efforts, some students say they still struggle to find a variety of available foods on and off campus.  To deal with this, a gluten-free club was established last year, according to the members.”The purpose of the Gluten-Free Club is to establish a support group for people who are living a gluten-free lifestyle and to increase awareness of Celiac Disease,” sophomore and club member Alissa Carberry said.Carberry said that the club recognizes that UVM has improved in recent years, but the University still struggles to meet the needs of those with a gluten allergy. “UVM has done a better job in the past year in the dining halls, and they now offer gluten-free bread at the Marketplace and at Alice’s,” Carberry said. “But overall UVM is not very supportive.””The biggest challenge is finding variety in my gluten-free diet,” sophomore and club member Lucy Glaize said. “I have a very strict case of Celiac Disease, so there is no give or take room when it comes to gluten consumption.”Another problem Carberry and Glaize said that they face on campus is the problem of mislabeled food.”The greatest issue we have is the mislabeling of items,” Carberry said. “The Marketplace once listed beef and barley soup as gluten-free, while the name inherently states that it is not.”As a result, Carberry and Glaize said they end up eating a lot of food downtown or purchasing groceries.”Most restaurants, especially here in Burlington, by now are well aware of gluten intolerances,” Glaize said. “Even if their menu does not specify gluten-free, the chefs can suggest plenty of gluten-free options at the restaurant.”Carberry and Glaize listed Leunig’s, Vermont Pub and Brewery and American Flatbread as providing gluten-free dishes.Bove’s, a Burlington Italian restaurant that gained fame after its lasagna was featured on Food Network’s show “Throw Down with Bobby Flay,” recently issued a press release describing “Pasta-Less Lasagna,” a gluten-free version of their popular dish.Sophomore Hope Ressler, who is currently going through medical tests to determine if she has a gluten intolerance, said that she was pleased to hear about Bove’s initiative.”I am impressed with Bove’s initiative to meet gluten-free communities,” she said.  “I am impressed with their ingenuity to make different recipes to meet everyone’s needs, and I’m sure a lot of gluten-free eaters will appreciate a restaurant going out to the way to meet needs.”Bahan said that UVM Dining Services plans to continue to adapt to meet students needs.”We do rely heavily on the students to identify their needs and to supply feedback on how we are fulfilling those needs,” he said.Bahan said that next fall UVM Dining Services will adopt a new ordering student program where students can pre-order a gluten-free meal on-line.”We are looking to shorten the wait time for them so they can pick up their meal and join friends in the dining room [without] feeling that they are being singled out,” Bahan said.”If nothing else, I think it’s important to just know that the Gluten-Free Club knows it can be hard to be accommodating,” Carberry said. “But if we’re paying for the same meal plan everyone else is, we’d just like some more options.”