Great Full Gardens in the Joe Crowley Student Union.
Photo/Jayme Sileo Great Full Gardens in the Joe Crowley Student Union. The availability of options for gluten sensitive students are a mixed bag from location to location.

If you are like me and have just been diagnosed with Celiac Disease let me say upfront that you are not alone and yes… I miss cake too. 

Honestly, going gluten-free has been one of the most challenging transitions in my life. Gluten products have been the main ingredient in most of my meals since youth. It wasn’t until I turned 20 that my health turned for the worst. I went from being a social butterfly to being constantly ill, feeling like my body was a prison. 

When I was finally diagnosed with Celiac disease, I felt both relief and fear of knowing that gluten was my problem.

The thing about gluten though is that it is in everything, and I mean everything. Gluten can be found in certain spices, salad dressings and even chicken broth. It can also be found in some versions of sushi. Dang.

As a student who practically lives at the university, finding gluten-free options became my goal. I wanted to know if the university provided adequate eating options for students with my disease. 

It’s a mixed bag. 

The Joe Crowley Student Union vendors aside from Panda Express are celiac friendly but university-sponsored restaurants are not and should probably be avoided by students with gluten-free diets. 

At the Joe Crowley Student Union, students with gluten allergies can choose between Great Full Gardens Express, Port of Subs, Del Lobo Mexican Grill, SoHo Sushi Burrito and Starbucks. 

At each of these vendor locations, students with special diets like gluten-free can find a quick bite before class. 

At Port of Subs, for example, students can choose between a salad, lettuce wraps or a sandwich with gluten-free bread (the bread is not available at other locations in Sparks or Reno) and if a sandwich is not what you are looking for, then there are plenty of options to choose from. 

Unfortunately, if you are at the south end of campus, the gluten-free options practically become nonexistent and this feels like a slap in the face. 

The UNR Dining website provides the menus for all of their university food places such as  Create, Elements and Pathways.

The menus posted on Sept. 26, for all three restaurants show there were no gluten-free options available. In fact, on all the menus excluding Howler Village (they provide a garden salad), there were no gluten-free options. 

How is it that you serve the student and faculty and have restaurants that do not take into consideration food allergies?  How is that allowed? 

It shouldn’t be. To me, the inability to provide adequate food options to students is a blatant disrespect to their needs. As a public institution, I would think that every student would be taken into consideration when feeding them.

I am appreciative of the different vendors here at the university who take into consideration my disease but the university as a whole must do better. Allergies and food intolerances are not just a trend or something to be scoffed at.

I ask that the university take into consideration students when feeding them and acknowledge that some people can’t eat everything. 

Madison Vilapando can be reached at or on Twitter @madisonvialpan2.