Although I attend a community college, we have a good size café, a bookstore sponsored by Barnes and Noble and a coffee stand (owned and operated by Alumni). All three of these venues have gluten free options, but may not be the safest allergen-wise or are lackluster in taste. I would know, since I myself am gluten intolerant. I love cake as much as the next person but if I have it, I balloon and have a hard time swallowing.
(That’s me, cooking with my favorite cookbook!)
Being gluten free has benefits but there are also some negative things. Nutrition teacher at EvCC Laura Wild states, “ gluten free diet would be a benefit to those with gluten intolerance (celiac disease) or gluten sensitivity, but for most of the population, there is no benefit to removing gluten from the diet. In fact gluten is a good source of protein, and whole grains with gluten are excellent sources of nutrition. In fact the Dietary Guidelines for Americans advise us to consume more whole grains.”
Allow me to show you some of our “choices” at EvCC for those of you who may be gluten impaired!
Our cafe is run by Lancer Catering and has some options available for gluten free students and staff. Most of the options are products that are already gluten free – i.e. chicken breasts, salad – however, they also offer gluten free hamburger buns and bread. It’s rather hit or miss if they have it available every day. This is the most frustrating thing for me, personally. Having to go from being excited about a hamburger to excited about a vegetarian salad is not that great.
Celiac student Frances said “I think that the cafeteria does an okay job at providing some gluten free options I was pleased to see that they had two salads and pad thai that I could get gluten free but as someone with celiac disease I do worry about cross contamination. I would love to see them label the things in the food bar as to whether they were gluten free or not, but again cross contamination is always an issue for someone with celiac disease.”
The coffee stand, my favorite morning stop, has great gluten free breakfast like options. These items are labeled “wheat free, casein free”Raspberry oatmeal bar, apple oat muffins and cookie of assorted flavors are available for just $.25 more than the normal products, which is pretty good price-wise. (On the plus side, these items are also super yummy…)
The bookstore doesn’t advertise the availability of GF items however; individual items usually have it on their packaging. There are a few Pad Thai like noodle dishes you can heat up and assorted snack foods – nuts and Bugles!- but all of these things are a bit expensive. I’m not sure why that is, but the price difference isn’t astronomical so I don’t worry too much.
Map Evcc -> Safeway 2.1 miles
Easy things to buy from Safeway, just a few large blocks from the college, are PF Changs skillet dinners. Most of these are gluten free, and I supplement them with rice. Other common things I buy for convenience at Safeway are:
- Rice cakes with peanut butter
- Juanita’s tortilla chips
- Glutino poptarts
Nutrition teacher Laura Wild answered told me why gluten free has become such a big deal. “Some people have a medical need to restrict gluten in the diet. For those with celiac disease, consuming gluten, which is found in wheat, barley and rye, causes damage to the small intestine and interferes with the absorption of nutrients. Other people may restrict gluten because they are sensitive to its effects. Still others think a gluten-free diet is healthier or helps with weight loss. There isn’t any research for these last claims. When people go gluten-free, they may lose weight just because they are eating fewer processed carbohydrates like white bread, cookies and cupcakes, or they may eat less food altogether without bread/pasta/cereal.”
Overall, EvCC really does try to help out Gluten free and Celiac students, however, a lack in education about the food allergens is a problem.