Gluten-free food rises in caf

More students have begun to utilize Bon Appetit’s special diet program in recent years.

Alondra Urizar, Writer

There has been an increase of students with celiac disease or gluten intolerance that utilize the special diet program, said Steve Rall, general manager of Bon Appetit.


Though there are other allergies or intolerances, such as dairy and nuts, Bon Appetit has shifted to cater the needs of the largest allergy or intolerance on campus, gluten, in the Caf by labeling the food and offering gluten-free alternatives.

Since 2013, the Learning Center has received medical documentation and guided 60 students with the application process, according to Jennifer Roode, director of the Learning Center. With a doctor’s note, students are allowed to cooperate with Bon Appetit’s chefs and create their own customized menus and pick up times on Thursday night for the upcoming week.

The gluten-free cabinet next to the garden station in the Caf is specifically for those who have celiac disease or have an intolerance to gluten. Furthermore, Bon Appetit uses ingredients, separate pans and cooking utensils when making meals for students in the special diet program to ensure that there is no cross contamination, Rall said.

Megan Nerud, senior nursing major, has celiac disease, along with an allergy to a protein in milk called casein and an intolerance to corn. Nerud utilizes Bon Appetit’s special diet program in the caf.

“[The special diet program] is really nice. It’s a nice thing because without that it’s hard to find stuff to eat just with those three allergies,” Nerud said.

However, Nerud wishes the cabinet was stocked with gluten-free food choices more often. Only Bon Appetit staff are allowed to stock the bottom drawer of the cabinet with gluten-free options. However, recently the drawer has not been fully stocked, and students have resorted to filling it themselves.


“[I’ve been] making sure the cabinet that they have is stocked with food because that’s all there is. If there’s no bread in there, I can’t eat anything and sometimes all the stations [have] pasta, quesadillas…and everything has all my allergies in it,” Nerud said.

While some students joined the special diet program due to more severe or uncommon allergies, most students pick their own eating options, Rall said.

Students designate a time when they want to pick up their food. Should they decide to change their pick up time or not eat, students must email Bon Appetit four hours prior to the meal pick up time.

Carol Leon, a Hope Hall custodian, has worked at Biola for almost nine years. She has had celiac disease all of her life, but was diagnosed four years ago. Leon is satisfied by the gluten-free food on campus, though she only started eating at the Caf about three years ago.

“I brought my own food and I didn’t eat at the Caf,” Leon said. “Someone says, ‘Oh, would you like some cookies?’ No I can’t have that, I’m gluten-free and then someone else says ‘Oh, me too. Did you know they had gluten-free food at the caf’ and that’s how I found out.”

Nerud said she is pleased that Bon Appetit offers alternative options and special requests for students and staff with allergies.

“I appreciate the work that Bon Appetit is putting into their allergy program, especially because the allergies I have are serious allergies like with celiac’s,” Nerud said. “It’s not something that I’m just, ‘I would like to stay away from gluten because everyone’s doing it.’ It’s not a fad for me, the way that I have to live, so it means a lot that there is options.”

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