Why the gluten free pantry is my personal oasis

November 4, 2022

Why the gluten free pantry is my personal oasis

Each day, I wander downstairs from my Warren Towers dorm room and enter the dining hall. I am greeted by one of my favorite parts of Boston University — the gluten free pantry.

Haley Alvarez-Lauto | Graphic Artist

Since my celiac disease diagnosis in fourth grade nearly nine years ago, I’ve stuck to a strict gluten free diet to keep from falling ill. Although it’s been occasionally awkward and an underlying anxiety-inducer for my typically lax self, my gluten-free diet has never been a major issue.

At home, I was fortunate to have a pantry stocked with my favorite gluten free breads, pastas, muffins and more. Luckily, I received my Celiac diagnosis at the peak of the gluten free fad in the early 2010s. I suppose the range of products have been on the shelves ever since.

Of course, coming to college I could not help but feel anxious about adjusting my diet to a new place. Navigating dining halls is a new experience for all freshmen, and those of us with dietary issues scan the dining halls questioning much more than just what looks good that day.

I feared I would encounter a dining system that did not fully accommodate me, and I would turn to buying my own gluten free groceries that are already significantly expensive, on top of the money spent on my mandatory meal plan.

But not only was I wrong, I had no idea I was about to meet my favorite places on campus — the nut and gluten free pantries in BU’s dining halls. Incredibly underrated, three BU dining halls — Warren, Marciano and West — have a spacious sideroom, accessible with a Terrier Card swipe, that holds a plethora of options.

Each pantry holds a massive fridge, shelves for individual snacks, a microwave and cabinets with fun things tucked away inside.

In the freezer, I can truly have my pick, with several types of gluten free frozen meals lining the shelves. On cozy days when the other dining hall stations don’t fit my mood, it’s always comforting to turn to the pantry to make a gluten-free mac and cheese, as though I’m back home.

On the opposite side, a fridge holds gluten free bagels and breads with a variety of condiments. At breakfast, when the regular ketchup packet selection is totally out, I can easily swipe into the pantry to find some ketchup there, even though there’s no need to put a separate selection there to begin with.

The individual snacks are exceptional. That’s It bars — that cost an absurd amount at Starbucks — line the shelves, as well as Made Good granola bites and Hippea chips. On the counter sits a display full of often homemade baked goods, such as brownies and cookies wrapped in saran wrap for an easy-to-go dessert. Sometimes I’m unlucky and they’re gone for the day, but the thought counts.

Why the gluten free pantry is my personal oasis

The accessibility of the pantry with individual snacks and meals brings up a question of ethics: should I take items from the pantry back to my dorm room?

Technically, I complete a Gluten and Nut Free Pantry training each year so my Terrier Card will swipe me in and taking food out of the dining hall is prohibited. With this article in writing, I won’t fully say whether I take things back with me for later. However, I will say that most of the snacks and meals in the pantry are extremely expensive at CityCo downstairs.