Over winter break, my aunt shared an article with me from the Boston Globe about college students in the Boston area demanding and enjoying gluten-free options in their dining halls. While a gluten-free diet may just be a fad for some people, others experience serious illness if they consume gluten, a protein that not only makes doughy pizza and desserts delicious, but that also acts as a preservative in a large array of foods. When college dining halls are storing and making meals for thousands of students, there are most likely preservatives involved. Pasta, sandwiches, salad dressings, and most sauces contain gluten, and these options seem pretty unavoidable to a typical college student when making meal selections.
The article details how schools including Northeastern, UMass Boston, Boston University, Tufts handle specialty diets. While these schools are much larger than Connecticut College, the measures they take to ensure safe meal options for students are impressive. Gluten-free areas in dining halls and separate cutting boards and knives seem to be the most common. Tufts has a special freezer with a lock on it that only specified students with allergies know the combination to! These measures made me think about Connecticut College dining halls and the options that are offered for students who not only eat gluten-free, but also dairy-free.
In all of the dining halls, soy milk, and occasionally rice milk, are provided in the mini-refrigerators. Lactaid ice cream is offered, but this seems to be the extent of specific dairy-free options. If you are getting a little tired of Lactaid ice cream, try fluff on graham crackers for dessert, or peanut butter with pretzels if you are in the mood for something salty. If you’re looking to add a little flavor to a sandwich, add vinegar-based salad dressings. My favorite wrap is with olive oil, dill, arugula, and turkey, grilled for a bit in the panini press!
If you have ever been to Not Your Average Joe’s, or P.F. Chang’s, I am sure that you have had, or at least seen, the delicious lettuce wraps. Although lettuce isn’t nearly the same as soft bread with a crunchy crust, it tastes great when paired with sliced hard-boiled eggs, tomato, red and green peppers, and black olives. Don’t forget about corn tortilla chips and popcorn in the dining halls, and if you are ever in doubt that something could contain gluten, do not hesitate to ask! The dining staff is very accommodating and they can easily find out for you.
Although Conn College does not have code-protected refrigerators and freezers with allergy-specific foods, there are definitely options. Now that it is the start to a new semester, try to be creative with the large selection that we are lucky to have!