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The Hawks' Herald

The Student News Site of Roger Williams University

The Hawks' Herald

The Student News Site of Roger Williams University

The Hawks' Herald

Eating at Roger with Celiac

Sage Shuster-Wright
The “Made Without Gluten” dessert and fruit section at Upper Commons.

Imagine you have a piece of bread in front of you, just normal sandwich bread. Now break that piece of bread into 350 pieces. Those pieces are pretty small, aren’t they? If you have celiac just two of those 350 pieces can cause a severe reaction and damage to your stomach.

Having Celiac means no more gluten, ever. No cheat days. No pasta, no sandwiches, no bagels, no cupcakes, no cinnamon rolls, no exceptions. It’s not all bad, I mean there are much worse autoimmune diseases I could have gotten, and there are tons of gluten-free options out there. They are all at least twice as expensive as their glutenous cousins, but at least I have the option.

There are a surprising number of people with celiac on campus. I don’t have numbers on it, but just on my floor of Stonewall there are two of us, and I’ve seen a couple more begrudgingly eating the pizza at Upper. So today I am going to complain a bit, on behalf of all the celiacs on campus, about the gluten-free food at Upper and Lower.

Walking into Lower, I have about 3 options for what I can eat there. Sushi, sandwiches, or something in the freezer section. Of course, there are a couple of snack options, chips and nuts, and plenty of drink options. But when it comes to meals I only have those three. In reality it’s more like two, since I can’t use the microwave at Lower. If I want one of the frozen options I’ll have to go back to my dorm. I’ve never tried the sandwiches myself, one because the bread looks gross and two I didn’t feel like putting in the effort to get the sandwich-making station celiac-safe.

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Which leaves me with only one option: sushi. One issue with that is I’m not entirely sure it is actually safe. I haven’t had a reaction yet, but I don’t know if the prepping area is celiac-safe and the gluten-free sushi options are often hidden in the overwhelming sea of gluten-containing ones. They do offer gluten-free soy sauce but it is unclear if that is them supporting people with celiac or just for the people on a diet. So even though I eat the sweet potato sushi way too much, I don’t feel comfortable recommending it to other celiacs. The freezer does always have great options though, from pizza to pie to chicken nuggets, so if you don’t mind going back to your room Lower can be a great meal option.

Upper on the other hand has tons of options…. Sometimes.

Gluten Free Only products free of cross contamination. (Sage Shuster-Wright)

For one, breakfast for me usually consists of fruit and more fruit. That is somewhat my fault for being a picky eater, as there are gluten-free breads and cereals available in our little section but eating bread every morning gets boring after a while. While other students get pancakes and tables filled with sweets, we get donuts maybe once a week and occasionally the home fries are safe for us.

Once we get to lunch and dinner however the options open up. Stir fry is always a safe option, and if all else fails I always have french fries as my backup. It is annoying however that I am at the constant whims of the classics menu. I just have to cross my fingers and hope that today isn’t a sandwich day, or the vegetable isn’t, for some reason, covered in gluten. The vegetarian side pretty consistently has good options, (if you like tofu, that is), but even then there are days where all I can eat is beans.

The worst part of Upper for me is event days, where suddenly everything has been rearranged to make way for ramen or taco making. On those days I get to have the amazing experience of watching my friends eat the most delicious-looking foods while I eat undercooked rice and an unseasoned chicken breast.

The saving grace of Upper is its gluten-free section, which always has desert options and a gluten-free exclusive toaster. As well as the amazing staff at Upper who are very accommodating and happy to make you gluten-free pasta, or find you gluten-free stuffing on Thanksgiving. I also greatly appreciate the gluten-free ice cream cones which mean I don’t have to steal a bowl from Upper every time I want to bring ice cream back to my dorm.

Eating with celiac can be an incredibly stressful experience as with every bite you are gambling with your health. When it comes to comparing Upper and Lower, Upper soars high above its competition, carried almost entirely by the amazing chefs and everyone else who works there. If my table is dirty they have wipes, if I’m worried about an item they can confirm its safety or help me find a new one. While the food isn’t always the best, I at least know they care enough to try and my health is jus

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About the Contributor
Sage Shuster-Wright
Sage Shuster-Wright, Herald Photographer
Sage is currently a freshmen at Roger, in her first year with the Hawks' Herald. She is a double major in Educational Studies and Psychology, with the plan to become an Early Childhood Teacher. She is also apart of the Photography and Outing clubs.

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