Off The Grill, the food service provider at InterAmerican Campus, now offers a menu that touts gluten-free options.
The IAC is not the only Miami Dade College campus that offers gluten-free choices, but it is the only campus that labels them.
“I can now identify what I can eat,” said student Sabrina Romero, a computer science major with a gluten sensitivity, who expressed her dissatisfaction with the lack of labeled gluten-free options. She brought the matter to the attention of the Student Government Association. “I don’t have to ask if that contains gluten or not. I just know now.”
Last December, student government association president Ambar Miniel voiced the concern to IAC President Joanne Bashford, who wrote a letter to Off The Grill’s owner Javier Gordo.
After nothing changed, Miniel and other SGA members created a petition and passed flyers around campus at the start of the spring semester to stress the urgency of labeling the gluten-free products on the menu.
The students galvanized and gathered 375 signatures; by February Off The Grill started labeling the gluten-free choices on its menu at IAC.
“We are also going to change the menus later on, on the other campuses to reflect gluten-free [choices],” Gordo said. “I think we’re going to hopefully, next semester.”
In addition to IAC, Off The Grill is the food service provider at West, Hialeah, Wolfson and Medical campuses. Canteen is the food service provider at Kendall, Homestead and North campuses.
The new menu labels at least 14 gluten-free options. Among the choices: a Caribbean chicken bowl, a fajita steak bowl and chicken patacones.
“Clearly, they do have items that are gluten-free and it’s really just a matter of noting them properly on the menu,” Bashford said. “So I think for other campuses that might want to do the same thing that our students achieved here at InterAmerican Campus it should be much easier now that the model has already been set.”
The website beyondceliac.org estimates that 18 million Americans have a sensitivity to gluten.
People who suffer from gluten sensitivity are not able to digest gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley and rye, which can cause them to suffer from headaches, joint pain and numbness in their limbs. Also, celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder similar to gluten sensitivity, can damage the small intestine, which can cause fatigue, diarrhea and weight loss if gluten is consumed.