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In apparent first, gluten not welcome at this college dining hall

KENT, Ohio -- Kent State University has opened what it says is the first entirely gluten-free dining hall in the country.

The school says it restructured Prentice Cafe in Prentice Hall after administrators noticed a rising number of students with intolerance to gluten.

Kent State says it’s the first to offer an entire dining hall that’s certified gluten-free. The cafe was certified by the Gluten-Free Food Services Certification Program, which monitors food safety,

“The new dining facility will meet the ever-increasing demand for gluten-free foods,” the school says in a statement.

“An estimated 3 million Americans suffer from celiac disease, a genetic autoimmune disorder that affects the digestive process,” the statement says. “When a person who has celiac disease consumes gluten, the individual’s immune system attacks the small intestine and inhibits the body’s ability to absorb important nutrients.

“Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye and barley. It is essential for those with celiac disease and sensitivity to gluten to avoid products containing these ingredients. Some individuals who have not been diagnosed with an allergy or sensitivity to gluten also choose to restrict their gluten intake as a personal preference. Until recently, however, it has often been difficult to find suitable gluten-free food options, especially when dining away from home.”

The statement quotes Kent State Director of University Dining Services Rich Roldan as saying, “Students have enough to worry about – they should not have to worry about their food being safe to eat.”

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