Gluten-free food options easier to find on campus

One of the gluten-free options at Humber North campus. Photo by Peter Davey One of the gluten-free options at Humber North campus. Photo by Peter Davey

Danielle La Valle
News Reporter

Food choices at Humber for those unable to consume gluten have improved as the college’s catering service strives to accommodate various diets.

Jose Juardo, food service director for Chartwells catering firm at Humber, said campus staff are able to adapt to dietary needs.

“We provide the training necessary to all the front-of-house staff to have the knowledge to provide the service,” Juardo says. “Anyone that has any kind of food allergy, we work on a one-on-one basis with them.”

This was not always the case, and getting a meal on campus for those with celiac disease – an intolerance of the gluten found in wheat and other grains – used to be much more difficult.

Will Vincent, a 2008 alumnus of Humber’s intermediate plumbing course, was diagnosed with celiac disease while attending college but was then unable to find gluten-free options at Humber.

Health Canada’s website states celiac disease is also known as gluten intolerance and is often inherited. It is an autoimmune disease that causes the body’s immune system to react to gluten, causing inflammation and possible damage to the small intestine.

To get by, Vincent said he had to seek alternative options.

“I would either bring snacks from home or drive along Highway 27 looking for something quick I could have,” he said.

Despite ongoing challenges, Vincent said the trend for gluten-free living among non-sufferers of celiac disease has improved his quality of life.

“If it weren’t for people taking an interest in gluten-free diets I wouldn’t have even 10 per cent of the accommodations that are available to me today,” he said. “I couldn’t be more grateful.”

Humber constantly strives to improve its food options, said Don Henriques, director of campus services.

“Over the past six months, we concentrated on improving overall staff knowledge of made-without-gluten offerings and successfully introduced a variety of made-without-gluten meal options for all students to choose from,” Henriques said.