All students deserve to eat school lunch

Alana Wasserman

Nachos, chicken strips, fries–the lunch at EPHS has a variety of options that I can never choose. I have never had school lunch in my life because I was diagnosed with Celiac disease when I was 2 years old.

Celiac disease is a genetic auto-immune disease that reacts to wheat, rye, oats, barley, flour, malt and many more ingredients. If I eat gluten, my villi would be damaged (which causes the intestine to not properly absorb food), and I would experience symptoms such as stomach pain, nausea and vomiting. This life-changing diagnosis forced me to change all of my eating habits, and at the time there were barely any food options for me. I had to bring separate cupcakes to birthday parties and my own lunch when I went almost anywhere.

Compared to when I was first diagnosed, there are now more options in stores and restaurants that are safe for me to eat, but I haven’t seen any at the school. While there are a few meals that might happen to be gluten-free, unless they take precautions, the chance of cross-contamination is very high. The only choices I can safely eat are fruits, vegetables and some pre-packaged snacks, but that doesn’t count as a meal.

I’m not the only student at EPHS who has food allergies and dietary restrictions. Why are people with allergies not able to get lunch? Developing a separate menu or even a few options on the regular menu that are safe for all students would be helpful. I want to be able to eat mozzarella sticks and try the orange chicken to see if it’s as bad as everyone says. With the number of food options the school has, I am surprised that they haven’t added allergen-free foods.