Allergy-Friendly at Rochester

There is an exciting, new addition to the dining services at the University of Rochester!

(Drum roll, please…)

The gluten-free pantry at Douglass! Keeping up a gluten-free diet, whether for medical reasons or a personal choice, can be difficult when you are first taking control over your eating habits. Having the gluten-free pantry is super helpful in ensuring that you can stick to this diet.

One of the complaints I had in the past about the dining halls on campus was the lack of gluten-free options. There were always refrigerated, prepackaged, singular slices of bread . . . but that wasn’t exactly appetizing all the time. Our campus didn’t even have separate toasters for the gluten-free bread or bagels. I don’t personally have celiac disease, but I do work at a diabetes camp over the summer. We have lots of campers with celiac and it is super important to isolate menu items without gluten from the menu items with gluten. I was shocked when I first came to the University of Rochester and saw our tiny gluten-free section. I am so excited to see that specific toasters are designated for gluten-free products in Douglass Dining Center now.

The newly renovated Douglass Dining Center

The newly renovated Douglass Dining Center


In fact, “the new Douglass,” as it is colloquially referred to, has impressed me with all it has to offer. It’s much easier to find vegetables at every meal—vegetables that aren’t drowned in sauce, either. There is a greater variety of different foods and plenty of bowls of handheld fruit. There is much more soy, almond, and rice milk available than ever before, and there is a whole station devoted to allergen-free meals.

Although I find it easier to eat more nutritious meals this semester, the dessert counter at Douglass is also glorious. Plus, I hear that “scoopable” ice cream is on its way. Another exciting addition for college students is the Java’s coffee station. What a great resource the morning of a midterm . . . and every other morning. There is also a wide variety of teas to choose from. It’s common to see students walking out of the dining hall with a portable cup of Java’s coffee or tea. I find that most of the stations at Douglass allow individuals to pick and choose which menu items they want with their meal, so it’s easier to avoid meat, cheese, etc.


This is my typical, allergen-free dinner at Douglass.


While Douglass is great, there are still some things to improve on. Sometimes certain items are unlabeled, which makes it difficult for anyone avoiding certain food groups to make smart decisions. The gluten-free pantry could use some more variety. Fortunately, Danforth Dining Center on the first floor of Susan B. Anthony Hall is completely peanut-free and has a vegan station with an entreé, soup, and dessert. So there is always another option if one dining hall is not fitting the bill one day. Plus, we have a wonderful nutritionist who is always willing to sit down and talk about your specific needs. Set up an appointment if you have any questions or suggestions, or to gain access to the gluten-free pantry.

As you can see, I am a big supporter of the new dining hall. It is definitely a selling point on campus, so be sure to stop by when you visit!

About the author

Charlotte Pillow

I am a member of the Class of 2019. I am originally from Ridgewood, NJ. I am a student in the Dual Degree in Nursing program. I am majoring in nursing, public health, and interdisciplinary dance studies, and minoring in psychology. I am the president of the College Diabetes Network and a research assistant at the School of Nursing. For the 2017 spring semester, I studied public health at the University of Oxford.

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