UVM Dining Services Strikes Again

Imagine this: It’s Super Bowl Sunday and you are with a group of your friends. Every single person has their cheap beer firmly clasped in their hands. Well, everyone except for you. You’re stuck holding a sticky shot glass in one hand and a nalgene full of who-knows-what in the other.

It’s not as though I don’t like beer and just don’t drink it. I literally cannot because I am allergic to gluten, a wheat allergy known as Celiac Sprue. Gluten happens to be in just about everything. The question is not what I can’t eat (bread, pasta, anything with flour, beer, crackers, bagels, pizza, tacos, and cereals among others), but rather what I can digest- especially while in college, eating at the mercy of UVM. Why do I use the term “mercy?” Because someone must have mercy on my soul and provide me with food I can actually eat.

Back in September I was eating in a campus dining hall. I loaded my plate with apples and bananas, and skipped every other food that was offered simply because if I were to have eaten it, I would have spent my evening crouching besides a toilet for a reason other than drunkenness.

One of the UVM servers noticed my (non) preferred food-of-choice and asked me what I was doing. This was our conversation.Gluten girl (pointing to the processed food): “Oh, I can’t eat that stuff.”

UVM (offended): “Why not?!”

Gluten girl: “I’m allergic. I’ll get sick.”

UVM: “What do you eat here?”

Gluten girl: “Uh…lettuce, apples, pudding parfaits…”

UVM: “Sucks.”

Yes, sir. Yes it does. I’m surprised that I haven’t died of starvation here. When one of my roommate’s friends heard about Celiac Sprue, he proclaimed, “Damn. I’d kill myself.” Well, the lack of food and nutrition is killing me.

According to the University of Maryland, College Park, Celiac Sprue is one of the most common, undiagnosed diseases in the US, affecting approximately one out of every one hundred-fifty people, meaning at least 60 UVM students share my suffering. Yeah, the short term affects (regurgitation of food, nausea, and fatigue) are unfortunate, but the long-term affects, including intestinal cancer and infertility, are worse.

Granted, I consider myself lucky because having this disease is the toughest part of my life at the moment. But still, it’s difficult to eat the same thing every day because of a lack of choices. Celiac was not a personal choice, like vegetarians make. Unlike those who suffer from lactose-intolerance, those with a gluten disorder cannot take a pill to handle gluten-full food. The only cure is a strict gluten-free diet. And yet UVM is more adaptable to those who refuse to eat dead animal carcasses and for those who cannot digest dairy.

Almost every food that I have found at UVM or that is sold in campus stores contains gluten. And that needs to be changed. It’s not like I’m not asking for much. The Marche on Athletic Campus sells gluten-free pasta, which is a start. But, corn tortillas and wheat-free crackers are a nice and necessary additive to UVM’s food budget.

I realize that it’s difficult, and UVM is not the only culprit. I have gone through the same thing at restaurants. Even my own parents, although sympathetic, aren’t the most helpful when it comes to edible food for their daughter 2,000 miles away. It’s not their fault, however, and I know that they are not pleased that they pay for a meal plan that primarily consists of fruit, vegetables, and pudding.

I’m positive those that share this disease agree. If we were to be provided with gluten-free food, we would be grateful.

So, throw me a frickin’ bone…or bread…or even a bagel. Or sprue you.