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Kent State opens gluten-free cafeteria, it's the first in the country

Posted at 6:09 PM, Sep 06, 2016

Eating a sandwich won't typicality make you sick, unless you have celiac disease, which could make you extremely ill.

It's a growing problem, Kent State University is s trying to be part of the solution.

From their snacks to their salad bar, Kent State University is free, gluten free that is.

“The students are loving it," said Traci Holzman, Executive Chef in Prentice Hall Café at the university.

In line to get a smoothie, Mariah Franks, a student, said the new spot is very convenient.

“I'm actually kind of allergic to wheat, so this is kind of nice, I don't have to worry about getting sick,” she said.

The campus has opened the very first all gluten-free cafeteria in the country.

“We try to keep it main stream so the can still have chicken tenders and things like that...but that's safe now," Holzman said.

While Gluten-free items are traditionally less processed and healthier, Kent’s Dining Services Dietitian Megan Brzuski said it's not a weight loss gimmick.

“If you find gluten free it's not going to help you loose and keep off weight...it's really for people who have celiac disease or a gluten intolerance of some sort."

Like Nicholas Donovan. A Sophomore who's always had to think about what he eats...and if he doesn't, he can get very sick.

“Its just labels you have to read really carefully. It's really frustrating…it takes a lot out of me," he said.

Breakouts can sometimes end with and upset stomach or extremely itchy skin.

“Really scary, like crazy scary...it's just feelings of anxiety or something," Donovan.

Experts say that's normal.

"So it's extremely dangerous...and even if they have a small trace of gluten at all it can actually cause them to have a reaction... And I can call to become extremely or violently ill for weeks at a time," Brzuski said.

And the problem is growing thanks to increased amounts of processed foods, with 1 in a hundred people in the U.S. affected. Maybe that's why in just the second week of the semester...staff have seen lines like this every day.

“So the demand is started, you know you can see the demand was rising. So this was a definite need to do," Holzman said.

Donovan said he just appreciates the convenience and simply being thought of.

“[It’s] A lot, like a lot of help. They need more gluten-free help, options for other students that have my problem."