Elon University Dining Halls Gluten-Free Efforts for Student Safety

Freshman Lila Hoffman-Byer was diagnosed with celiac disease at age 10 and said she struggled with this dietary restriction all her life because it kept her from eating the foods she wanted. she really appreciates it. Hoffman-Byer is one of many students on the Elon campus who relies on Elon University’s catering team for a safe dining experience.

“I think Elon is doing a great job making sure students stay safe,” Hoffman-Byer said.

All of Elon’s dining halls offer gluten-free options and update their menus weekly so students always have variety in dining halls, even with dietary restrictions. Casey Claflin, customer experience manager at Elon Dining, said the main priority for catering staff is keeping students safe. He said staff try to prevent cross-contamination by changing utensils and gloves when needed.

Elon’s catering team works hard to ensure students stay safe and enjoy their favorite meals and enter the dining hall without stress about their dietary restrictions, according to Clafin.

“Our teams take the utmost care to avoid cross-contamination when making gluten-free dishes,” Claflin said.

Hoffman-Byer said Elon’s catering team didn’t just give him separate utensils, but provided packaged food to eliminate the possibility of a severe gluten reaction on campus.

“Sometimes I get nervous at the salad bar because it’s self-serve,” Hoffman-Byer said. “There are many gluten options, so some students could contaminate utensils when serving themselves.”

When she feels uneasy about her allergy, Hoffman-Byer said dining room staff are always available to help.

Sophomore Caitlin Aronson has multiple allergies, including one to gluten. She said that at the pasta bar in the McEwen dining room, staff members in Elon’s dining room make sure to use clean utensils and clean the space where they work to avoid contamination. crossed.

“Every time I go to this station, I’ll say I want gluten-free pasta and they’ll ask if it’s an allergy,” Aronson said. “They get a new pan, spatula and gloves and then order.”

Aronson said staff were ready to meet her needs and were cautious when they discovered she had an allergy.

Claflin said Elon Dining also packages desserts and snacks for those with severe gluten allergies, so students can enjoy items that are certified gluten-free and prepared in Elon’s kitchen away from produce. made from gluten and using clean utensils. Clafin said that for something to be a certified gluten-free product, it must pass the million parts test, which is used to describe low levels of an ingredient, and be prepackaged to prevent outside contamination.

Like Hoffman-Byer, freshman Bridget Packer has celiac disease and said she really appreciates the catering team being able to package baked goods.

“I feel really safe when Elon packs his gluten-free products in the bakery section,” Packer said. “I don’t have to ask if the food was in contact with gluten, which makes my life a lot easier.”

Executive chef Jonathan Burns and the dining room staff go to great lengths to pack everything, especially the bakery section, to prevent cross-contamination in Elon’s large kitchen.

“We don’t like to take chances when it comes to our students,” Burns said. “We pack everything from condiments to baked goods because cross-contamination is very common in the kitchen and there’s no way to prevent it in a large kitchen at Elon’s.”

Burns said having everything packed makes students and staff more comfortable.

“It’s less stressful for staff and students when they both know the food is in a safe place where it won’t come into contact with anything that could cause an allergic reaction,” said Burns.

Packer said Elon’s meals help ease students’ stress about their dietary restrictions.

“Elon Dining does a good job of making sure students don’t worry about their dietary restrictions,” Packer said. “Students already have so much to worry about and what they eat in the canteen shouldn’t be one of them.”

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