Monday, March 25, 2019

Chartwells Ignores the Struggles of Celiac Disease

Carey Maul ’21

Staff Writer

Among Trinity’s various social groups and organizations lives a small cult, a little percentage of the student body that has one tragic trait in common. I am talking about the Celiacs of Trinity College. For those of you who don’t know, Celiac Disease is an autoimmune disorder that makes the body interpret gluten as a pathogen, causing the digestive system to attack itself, tearing at the lining of the small intestine. So cute! Statistically, we are a small bunch, so finding each other is somewhat exciting. The most common site for these accidental Celiac run-ins is the ever elusive, ever mysterious allergen-free room in Mather. Those of you who have never ventured inside have probably wondered at least once what treasures wait on the other side of the locked door, watching the exclusive access-holders scan themselves in. Here is some heartbreaking news for you: it is overwhelmingly underwhelming.

When I was just a young bull looking at schools, I had to send the classic Celiac kid email to whomever was in charge of food services to ask about their accommodations for students with food allergies as serious as mine. Trinity was eager to share that they were just oh so lovingly accommodating and so utterly proud of their little allergy prison; it all seemed safe enough before I actually signed up for this place as a full-time commitment. This next statement will probably not come as a surprise to you: it was all a big old scam. During my freshman year I had nothing to eat, was sick all the time, and lost five pounds. I was having constant email battles with various food service personnel that consisted of false promises and insincere apologies for the health scares that I underwent as a result of their carelessness. Going home for breaks was the eating-equivalent of hooking myself up to an IV: I had to make up for lost time and lost health. And as time passed, I found that I was not alone in this feat.

The more time I have spent at Trinity the more horror stories I have heard. I have met a small militia’s worth of sad little sick Celiacs, and we all have the same message to preach. There seems to be a vast lack of awareness for what our disorder really is, and as a result, we are suffering the consequences. The head honchos of Chartwells do not seem to understand that we cannot eat food that has come in contact with gluten, that we do not cut out the Devil’s grain from our diets by choice, or that we can end up with some serious, life threatening conditions as a result of their carelessness. If they love their money so much, then perhaps they should pay closer attention before someone is hospitalized and they get sued. That being said, there are a handful of Mather employees who deserve a round of applause for their constant understanding, acts of kindness and genuine care that I cannot imagine come from any sort of instruction from management. Tasha who comes up with new gluten free recipes, you are a queen. Sully who always has my back in the sandwich line, you are also a queen.

Now I cannot forget to acknowledge the students who are equally allergic to foods other than gluten. I’m sure you guys have it rough too. I remember once opening the refrigerator door in the allergy room to find a glutenous bagel stuffed with cream cheese, sitting ominously on the shelf. The screams of Celiacs and wheat allergics like myself along with those of the lactose intolerants and the dairy allergics could be heard for miles. What type of evil soul would do such a thing? Nut allergies are another story altogether, and my heart goes out to you. In the meantime, I guess I will be seeing you all in the allergy room for some good old fashioned Chartwells shit-talking. Maybe someday we’ll actually form that small militia and start the riot that we should.

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