Kent State University has opened what it says is the nation’s first entirely gluten-free dining hall.
According to Cleveland.com, the Ohio college restructured its Prentice Cafe in Prentice Hall after administrators noticed a rising number of students with intolerance to gluten.
— Kent State (@KentState) August 31, 2016
The cafe was certified by the Gluten-Free Food Services Certification Program, which is a nationally-recognized food safety program.
"Students' needs have always been our top priority," Rich Roldan, director of university dining services, said in a statement. "Students have enough to worry about – they should not have to worry about their food being safe to eat. It is important they can eat in a safe environment."
Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye and barley. People who suffer from celiac disease cannot process gluten, and their immune system attacks the lining of the small intestine when gluten is consumed. This leads to various gastrointestinal symptoms, such as stomach pain, diarrhea, and bloating. Overtime, it can lead to severe gastrointestinal damage.
About 3 million Americans suffer from celiac disease. Food companies and college campuses around the country have begun offering more gluten free options as many consumers, even without a diagnosed sensitivity, opt to restrict gluten in their diets.
All patrons—not just those with medical note confirming gluten-intolerance—can dine at Kent’s new café which is open every weekday.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.