Eating at a school cafeteria has always been simple for me. Just go down to the food court, pick up a slice of pizza, and dinner is served.
However, the minute I began to pay attention to the ingredients I consume, dinner was no longer so simple.
That’s the case for Daichi Tong, third-year Carleton aerospace engineering student. Tong has suffered from a wheat allergy since early childhood.
“Often times I just bring my own lunch,” says Tong. “But when I don’t, I get to choose between two main places on campus. The residence commons and the actual food court. But at both places all I can usually get is sushi, chips and fries.”
When I ventured around Algonquin’s own food court, I was able to see that although the court does have more options for gluten free food, the choices are still limited. When I asked around, only Luigi’s pizza, and one meal at the Bits and Bytes had gluten free ingredients, along with some breads at Kelly’s Grille. You can eat a plate of pasta, a 9” pizza or sushi once more, along with, yet, another bag of chips.
“I actually decided to go to Carleton because they had more gluten free options at the residence cafeteria than other universities I looked at,” says Tong. “But it turns out that other than residence, they don’t have many options, and when they do, it’s always the same food.”
On a tour of the Algonquin food options, Tong was pleasantly surprised at the additional options. But although he admits it is a step up from Carleton’s food services, Tong still feels like he is being let down.
“It’s 2016 and the grocery stores are full of gluten free options, but student cafeterias don’t seem to have much. It’s very disappointing to me,” says Tong. “Post-secondary institutions don’t address people with allergies in general; they assume we just bring our own food.”
After spending a day eating only at Carleton and another only at Algonquin, I can say that the food options do in fact seem to be very limited, and not all that healthy either. Tong agrees, and expresses annoyance at the limited choices he is faced with every day.
“I would like to be able to share in the food court experience with my friends, but every time, my peers get to enjoy a poutine or pizza and I’m left with a bag of chips, or celery sticks,” says Tong. “It’s very unfortunate because until the food status changes, I will have to continue giving my money to other places in the city instead of my university.”