As far as college dining halls go in the U.S., it’s safe to say that no two cafeteria experiences are alike. While Maine’s Bowdoin College features a dining hall that serves up the occasional lobster bake, for example, Chicago’s Northwestern University has a cookie bar as one of its main culinary attractions. (Why haven’t lobster and cookie bars caught on in more schools?) But when it comes to dining hall variety and innovation, Kent University might take the cake. The gluten-free cake, that is.
By opening what the Ohio school claims to be the first entirely gluten-free dining facility on a college campus in the U.S., Kent is setting a new standard for university dining halls around the country. Colleges all over the country have aimed to include gluten- and allergen-free food stations in their cafeterias to accommodate student dietary restrictions, but these may not be enough, as they still raise concerns regarding food prep and safety.
"A lot of restaurants do offer gluten-free menus, but it's a little bit of a risk,” Kent University freshman, Erin Mazzotta, told NBC. “You have to trust them when they're cooking your food and handling it.” Kent’s completely gluten-free facility, Prentice Cafe, alleviates that concern by totally eliminating the potential of cross-contamination between gluten-free foods and foods that contain the wheat protein.
In the end, a dining hall is only as good as its food tastes, so maybe the best part about Prentice Cafe is that the gluten-free menu feels like anything but. With food staples that college students can’t really live without -- think pizza and grilled cheese -- Prentice boasts dishes that taste just as good as their gluten counterparts, thanks to chefs’ use of only the best taste-tested ingredients. Plus, the dining hall offers a bunch of vegan and vegetarian options for those who are gluten- and meat-free. The result is a dining hall that is quickly becoming a go-to destination for gluten-free and non-gluten-free students alike. And, we imagine, responsible for an influx of applications to Kent University.