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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Letter to the Editor

Dear Editor,

In a recent article in The Tufts Daily, “Carm should allow gluten a seat at the table,” a proposition was put forth to change the gluten free exclusivity of the Fresh at Carmichael Dining Center. Suggested under the guise of catering to the majority, such a stance neglects the diverse dietary needs of individuals that require a gluten-free diet and it overlooks the growing demand for gluten-free alternatives across the board (The writer themselves notes that up to 30% of the U.S. population chooses to eat a gluten-free diet).

Advocating for less gluten-free provisions is shortsighted and potentially exclusionary. Gluten intolerance and sensitivity affect a significant portion of the population, currently estimated to be around 1% for celiac disease alone. However, recent studies have shown that it might be double that number as it is estimated that up to 83% of cases are mis- or undiagnosed; and the incidence of celiac disease is increasing over time. For these individuals, consuming gluten can lead to severe health complications, ranging from gastrointestinal distress to long-term autoimmune damage. By minimizing gluten-free options, we risk marginalizing a considerable portion of the Tufts student body and jeopardizing their well-being.

Advocating for fewer gluten-free options sends a message of exclusion and disregard for individuals with specific dietary requirements. It perpetuates the misconception that accommodating those with dietary restrictions is optional rather than a fundamental aspect of responsible food service.

Tufts University is leading the way in accommodating the needs for those requiring, and desiring, gluten free diets. Carmichael Dining Center is just one of five main eateries at Tufts included in the meal plan (the others being Dewick-MacPhie Dining Center, Hodgdon Food-on-the-Run, Pax et Lox Glatt Kosher Deli and Kindlevan Café) which, using rough math, means 80% of these dining options included in the meal plan are not gluten free. Removing the gluten-free designation at Carmichael Dining because it is inconvenient to walk an additional 15 minutes to other dining options ignores the fact that for those requiring a gluten-free diet it is not just an inconvenience but a necessity.

Embracing gluten-free options isn't just about meeting a niche demand; it's about fostering an inclusive environment where everyone can enjoy a meal without compromise.