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The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at U Mass Boston chapter.

When I was younger, I could not WAIT to go to college and meet new people. I was always super excited to find new places to eat and experience the average college life, like eating in the dining hall with friends. What I wasn’t expecting my sophomore year of college, after a pandemic that kept us all off-campus doing remote learning, was to be diagnosed with Celiac Disease. To say this was a life-altering moment for me is an understatement, as many of you already know from my past piece on Celiac Awareness Month last May

UMass Boston has not made this transition easy. My saving grace for having accessible gluten-free food is due to the fact I live in off-campus housing rather than in the dining commons where I’d have to eat in the dining hall. The few times I tried to go to the dining hall or food courts on campus with my friends, there have been little to no options for any gluten-free food. It is very isolating when attending social events and also very awkward when meeting new people if they ask you to grab lunch in the food court, and you have to say no or pack a lunch. 

Noticing the lack of accessibility for Celiac or gluten-intolerant students here, I decided to sit down with our school’s dietitian. She was less than helpful. She repeatedly told me that there were plenty of gluten-free and celiac-safe options on campus, and I continuously reported back to her that these options were not celiac-safe. She let me know that I could give her a list of items and brands I would like to see on campus. I quickly gave her a list of several local and nationwide brands during this meeting, excited and eager to see something edible and safe on campus. However, I never received an update on this and have never seen any new options for gluten-free food appear. 

The options that the UMass Boston staff have given me are not only few and far between, but they are also unsupervised and potentially cross-contaminated. If you are Celiac, you know this is an immediate red flag and a no-go. 

In our dining hall, there is a “simple servings” station that is reportedly gluten-free. However, my gluten-intolerant friend who lives in the dorms has repeatedly told me that there is no supervision at this station. To add insult to injury, they have a sign posted outside of our dining commons that reads, “All foods served in this station are prepared exclusively with ingredients which do not contain the following allergens: MILK, PEANUTS, EGGS, TREE NUTS, WHEAT, GLUTEN, SOY, SESAME, SHELLFISH… Although we take measures to ensure against this, the possibility of cross-contamination through contact with other foods does exist.”  Therefore, who really knows what the students are doing when they serve their own food? Of course, students are not to blame, but instead, I blame the lack of staffing in the dining hall. 

Dining options on campus
Photo by Jackie Tucker

Additionally, we have various vending machines around campus called “Farmer’s Fridge,” with select items that are gluten-free. However, on the Farmer’s Fridge website, they include a disclaimer at the bottom that states, “Our items are handcrafted in our kitchen that also makes items using peanuts, wheat, milk, tree nuts, shellfish, fish, egg, soy, and sesame.” Other sources that report on Celiac safe places to eat, such as Find Me Gluten Free also state that this establishment “may not be safe for those with celiac disease.” 

Where is the celiac safety? Is this really the best we can do? My college experience has been severely impacted by this, and I feel so excluded and isolated from my peers. It’s truly not fair that because of an autoimmune disease that I didn’t choose to have, I have to miss out or constantly over-consider what options I have for food. I deeply miss spontaneity and it’s already taken away from Celiacs everywhere else. Why does this have to include our college campuses? 

Jackie Tucker

U Mass Boston '25

Jackie Tucker is the President and Campus Correspondent at the Her Campus UMass Boston Chapter. I oversee and create content with the social media team, as well as manage the event planning and marketing teams. I'm a fourth year student at the University of Massachusetts Boston, with a double major in Psychology (B.S.) and Communications (B.A.). Beyond Her Campus, I work in our campus' student activities office and assist all of the organizations on campus with event planning, poster management and any questions/concerns there may be regarding various organizations. Additionally, I'm a research assistant the AMPT lab on campus, or Anxiety Mechanisms and Processes Team run by Dr. Hayes-Skelton. In my free time, I love to listen to music and spend time with my friends. Some of my current favorite artists are the 1975, Arctic Monkeys, and Wallows. I also go on regular hikes when I can, and love to go to concerts.