Lesley University in Cambridge just reached a settlement with a student who sued because the school wouldn’t exempt the student from a meal plan, even though the student couldn’t eat the food.
Now, businesses and institutions subject to the Americans with Disabilities Act could be open to similar lawsuits, meaning people with gluten allergies may soon find a lot more menus that fit their diet.
The frustrating search for gluten-free food is something Claudia Amore’s been dealing with since 1998, when she was diagnosed with Celiac disease.
“I could never find anyone who really understood the disease or the intolerance or allergies so I just had to either bring my own food, or stay home,” said Amore.
It’s why when she joined the family business, “Typical Sicilian” in 2007, she got to work on a gluten-free menu right away.
“We worked together to create a two-sided menu,” said Amore. ”It gives you a lot of options for appetizers and dinners.”
The understanding Claudia has for gluten allergies, though, is still hard to find.
While awareness has increased significantly in recent years, many places are still trying to catch up. The list of unsafe foods for people diagnosed with the allergy numbers in the hundreds.
It’s why school departments and places like Western New England University have had to put measures in place to accommodate students. Just implemented this semester is a section of the cafeteria called the “Worry-Free Zone.” It not only caters to gluten allergies, but just about every other food allergy you can think of.
The Agawam school system currently only has one student with Celiac, but still had to find a way to make sure the child had options.
“We actually went with the father to Stop and Shop, and went through the aisles to see what he recommended,” said Robert Clickstein. ”We actually purchased some of those products and they also gave us ideas of other products we could purchase.”
From schools to restaurants, Claudia hopes the trend will continue so that no one will be forced to search like she did.
“Even if there’s just one or two items that they can offer to their customers I just think it will be a better experience for them to be dining out,” she said.
People who suffer from Celiac disease don’t absorb nutrients well and can get sick from the gluten found in wheat, rye and barley. The illness affects around two million Americans.