The Advance-Titan

Gluten-free choices need improvement

Advance-Titan | The Advance-Titan

We all know Blackhawk Commons and Reeve Memorial Union don’t have exactly the most gourmet food to begin with, but for people who can’t eat gluten, their options are even more limited. With the growth of gluten-free lifestyles there should be a monumental change in options on campus for people who have to maintain this diet.

As someone who eats a regular diet with no restrictions, I don’t often find myself jumping at the meal choices at the dining halls, so I couldn’t imagine the struggle of finding something to eat every day with such finite options.

Emmalee Wollin, a freshman at UW Oshkosh, is sensitive to gluten. She stated there is an extremely limited number of options for gluten-free foods on campus that are also healthy.

“On the weekends, since I’m a freshman, I’m basically forced to eat at Reeve and they have nothing,” Wollin said. “I usually have to eat Sub Connection or the Mexican food on weekends and that gets tiring. Having more fruit on campus would help since I can’t eat everything everyone else does, and it would be healthier than just eating carbs.”

Even as someone who can eat any option that is offered at our dining halls, I still think there should be more fruit provided. Maybe that’s why the “freshman 15” is such a big cliché that has proven to be quite accurate on campus.

If we had more natural options, which most of the time goes hand in hand with being healthier, then it would be a win-win — more gluten-free selections and just an overall more wholesome diet.

I understand gluten-free options are more expensive to buy, especially in the mass amounts that are needed to keep up with the 14,000-some students enrolled in UW Oshkosh, but I’m pretty sure we can afford to be equipped with even just a few more gluten-free friendly meals.

For most of us students, this is our first experience of being away from home. According to the article “The Best Gluten-Free, Allergen Free College In The U.S.” by Heather Sliwinski, for one out of every 133 of us that cannot eat gluten, the idea of stepping out of the comforting diet they are used to is another added stressor.

The last thing gluten-intolerant students need to worry about is accidentally eating gluten and paying the price.

“If I had celiac, I would be screwed,” Wollin said. “They let everything touch, and there is so much cross-contamination.”

Mackenzie Ricard, a freshman who works for the dining halls on campus, also mentioned the issue with cross-contamination and commented on the selections available.

“As someone who frequently works at Blackhawk, they don’t do much to prevent cross-contamination,” Ricard said. “They don’t have a lot of gluten-free options or make an effort to have gluten-free options. The only real dietary needs they cater to is vegan. They don’t have gluten-free bread options. They aren’t required to have gluten-free entree or protein, which makes it hard to stay healthy.”

If students from behind the counters and eating the meals are saying that there is a dilemma with the gluten-free assortment available, then I think we should really do something to help cater more to our students that have a gluten sensitivity or allergy.

Simply put, I think that if students who have these dietary limitations are paying the same amount for a meal plan, then they should be getting just as much out of it as students who don’t have any restrictions.

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Independent Student Newspaper of the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh
Gluten-free choices need improvement