In May, Udi’s, a gluten-free food company, named Georgetown the second-most gluten-free accommodating college Campus. Many students, however, are skeptical of this title, despite November’s designation as Gluten-Free Awareness Month.
Joe Lanzilla (SFS ’16), a celiac who is also dairy- and egg-free, said that he has repeatedly gotten sick after eating at O’Donovan Hall.
“Last year, personally, I had to go to the ER three times due to allergic reactions,” Lanzilla said. “There’s definitely room for improvement in Leo’s with the dietary staff. They do a fine job, but there probably can be improvements.”
Students with more obscure allergies also take issue with the presentation of dining hall options.
“They don’t label ingredients so much as they label allergens,” lactose intolerant, nut- and sesame-free Evan Chernack (SFS ’17) said. “It’s kind of misleading when it says contains no known allergens, because it could still contain no known allergens yet still have something that someone is allergic to.”
For Gluten-Free Awareness Month, Georgetown Dietitian Allison Marco will table in Leo’s to raise awareness about celiac disease and gluten intolerance. She will also hold focus groups for gluten-free students.
“Overall, the staff at Leo’s is aware of food allergies, and they take them seriously,” Marco wrote in an email. “We encourage the staff to ask questions, and I include allergy awareness along with nutrition topics in training we provide to the staff.”
In addition to concerns about availability of food, those with dietary restrictions find themselves restricted to a repetitive diet relying on a locked gluten-free fridge.
“There isn’t really much selection, and I feel like a lot of gluten-free students can’t eat from the fridge because there’s not a huge selection in there, and it’s kind of limited, and so they eat at the other stations, which is plausible, but at the same time, you risk contamination,” Lanzilla said.
Students have praised the new efforts to get student feedback on gluten-free dining.
“I think it’s really good to raise awareness for the restrictions that people face because a lot of people don’t necessarily know about how something so routine as eating or as having a meal becomes a lot more complicated when you factor in someone who has dietary restrictions,” Chernack said.