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Old Dominion University Named “GREAT School” for Gluten-Free Students

Photo of Gluten-free station at Café 1201Gluten-free station at Café 1201

Old Dominion University has earned recognition as a "GREAT School" by the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (NFCA), a national nonprofit organization dedicated to those affected by Celiac disease and other gluten-related disorders that trigger damage to the small intestines when wheat, rye or barley are eaten.

"We are proud to be one of only four universities in the country to achieve GREAT School recognition," said Monarch Dining/Aramark Executive Chef Bob Patton. "We are dedicated to providing healthy and tasty food options for all ODU students and are willing to work with anyone with a special dietary requirement."

The honor signifies that the ODU dining services staff has completed comprehensive gluten-free training and pledges to uphold gluten-free protocols that encourage a safe dining experience for students with Celiac disease and non-Celiac gluten sensitivity.

"With the rise in diagnosed Celiac disease cases throughout the country, it is very important to us that we provide options for those Old Dominion University students with a gluten allergy or gluten sensitivity so we implemented the Gluten-Free station at Café 1201," said Janet McLaughlin, Aramark resident district manager.

An estimated 1 percent of the population has Celiac disease and an estimated 6 percent of the population has gluten sensitivity - conditions that require a strict, lifelong, gluten-free diet. NFCA's GREAT Schools program is an online, multimedia course that teaches dining services managers and staff how to properly prepare and serve gluten-free meals. Participants learn how to identify gluten-free ingredients; avoid cross-contamination with gluten-containing foods; and answer gluten-free students' questions. Recognition as a GREAT (Gluten-free Resource Education and Awareness Training) School lasts for two years.

"There's more to serving gluten-free food than replacing a side of pasta with rice," said Alice Bast, founder and president of NFCA. "GREAT Kitchens teaches a comprehensive, team approach that is essential when responding to any medically necessary dietary request."

ODU's gluten-free options include:

  • Cilantro chili chicken with rice noodles
  • Thai chicken curry
  • Paella
  • Cobb salad with grilled chicken

ODU welcomes all students affected by gluten-related allergies and sensitivities or any other food allergy to speak with the food service director or local dietician about specific dietary needs.