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No gluten-free items in the lunchroom?

By: Bailey Gorlewski

From what I can tell, and what I have been told Batavia High School does not have any strictly gluten-free options. Who does this affect, you may ask?  Not having gluten-free options affects those with Celiac disease, wheat allergies, and others with gluten intolerance.

Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease that hurts those affected when they eat anything that has gluten in it. Gluten is a mixture of proteins that is found in wheat and other grains. Gluten is found in anything that has wheat or flour in it. This includes everything from Twizzlers to sandwiches.

Of the extensive amount of items in the school cafeteria, there are no dedicated gluten-free items available. There are salads of course, but the one issue with that is what’s in the salad, as well as how the salads are prepared. From what I have seen of the salads though, they all have croutons. Now you may ask, why don’t you just pick out the croutons?  The problem with that is a little thing called cross contamination.

Cross contamination which is defined as is “the process by which bacteria or other microorganisms are unintentionally transferred from one substance or object to another, with harmful effect.” When you remove croutons from the salad, there are still small particles of that crouton still on the salad, which in turn can still get people with gluten intolerances sick.

Luckily for students the salads are not prepared and are made fresh to order as confirmed by Jeremy Wilkerson, the food service director for the BPS 101 district.

We actually do not have a premade salad as we received feedback from students that fresh made to order salads were preferred. Students get to choose what goes into their salad that way. “ said Wilkerson.

Unfortunately, if the person preparing your specific salad has already touched something with gluten, you could still be cross contaminated in some way.

If requested by a student the school must be able to provide gluten-free substitutes for students with diets set by their physician. This is provided by Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 which prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities. Under most cases Celiac disease is counted as a disability by the United States government. To be able to have the school provide gluten-free meals, you must have a note from your physician, stating your intolerance and the severity of it.

Besides not being able to eat anything with gluten, students could also be ostracized, and should avoid “broadcasting to the school that you have a child with celiac disease,” said Steven Schwarz, M.D. This is due to the fact gluten-free diets are seen as a “fad” even when it’s serious issue for an estimated 3 million Americans.

As a child with Celiac disease, birthday parties, and other family gatherings are already a hassle. Why should it be the same way at school?. Luckily for birthday parties and family gatherings, there are restaurants that can deliver, or food can be picked up. Unfortunately, students at school can’t just leave school grounds during lunchtime to pick up a gluten-free burger or pizza. At this point in time, your only options are to bring your own lunch, or bring in something for the school to prepare for you.

“We will make every effort to provide our current menu as gluten free as possible and are willing to allow students to provide us gluten free items to prepare for them at no charge “ Wilkerson said.

So my big question to the district is; Why isn’t there at least one designated gluten-free item on the menu already?

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