Being GF at Kenyon

Kenyon is unique in a multitude of ways. Perhaps its setting amongst the beautiful landscape of rural Ohio, small class sizes, and thriving academic programs are among the many features that drew you to this school. Similarly, you too are unique. One unique characteristic some of us may share is having an allergy or intolerance to gluten. With only one dining hall on campus, I understand how you may feel limited when it comes to satisfying your dietary needs. Fear not, however, as Peirce Hall provides ample options for those that are allergic or intolerant to wheat. Here’s your gluten free guide for navigating your way at Kenyon.

I remember feeling restrained when surveilling the servery for gluten free options. Between the various meal stations, it was never a sure bet that at least one of them would have something that wasn’t tossed in flour, tangled in pasta, or sandwiched between two slices of bread. And playing it safe by reverting to the salad bar time and time again would surely have driven me insane in due time. But there is much more than first meets the eye. Here’s what I’ve learned about how to navigate Peirce Hall with a gluten intolerance. 

Three Main Food Stations

Entering the servery, your eyes instinctively jump to the ‘Hearth’, ‘Comfort’, and ‘International’ stations, so let’s start there. First and foremost, keep an eye out for the menu sheets posted at each of these stations. They have labels helping you discern whether the certain foods and dishes contains gluten, milk, or potential allergens. But this sheet isn’t the ‘end all be all’. The AVI team staffed in Peirce is a very affable group who are more than willing to comply with your dietary needs. For meals that incorporate gluten in some fashion, the AVI workers can oftentimes prepare a gluten free version of the dish or substitute GF breads and such to accommodate you. This awesome service that’s provided is reiterated by signs prompting you to “just ask” if you’re unsure if something contains wheat or other glutenous grains.

Bret Lowry

Don’t be shy to ask about the deets when it comes to getting GF friendly meals. Even during the hectic lunch hours where the lines behind you seem to trail on for miles, that’s no reason to repel you from getting the proper food you need.

Gluten Sensitive Area

Your GF options are not solely contingent on the meals provided in the three food lines, however. Tucked away by windows near ‘International’ is your jackpot for GF snacks and foods. One key amenity you’ll find is a fridge labeled ‘Gluten Sensitive’. Inside you’ll find some of the essentials: breads, bagels, and the occasional ‘homemade’ goody to name a few. A tip for using the fridge: once opened, an irritating beep will begin pestering you. To stop this annoyance, press the “Set” button.

Bret Lowry

Bagels and toast can be a scrumptious treat by itself or can go along with your eggs and morning brew for breakfast. This GF section is particularly advantageous if you’re running late and need to get to class. While the daily squabble by the regular bagel section escalates when class time nears, you can swiftly make your way to the GF section with its own uncontaminated toaster and be out in a jiffy. Also, if you discover that, for example, the Udi’s sandwich bread is down to the two heel slices, you need not suffer through crusty ends. Simply approach one of the AVI workers and they can replenish the precious loaves from their back-stock freezer. They really are your greatest ally when trying to navigate your gluten free options.

If the breaded items like toast aren’t your jam, there are also at least three gluten free cereal options in rotation directly across from the fridge. Should your flavor-seeking palate get tired of the Cheerio and Rice Chex brands (which can be bland), drizzle some honey over them to jazz things up. Also in the vicinity are peanut butter alternatives, crackers, rice cakes, and more, all stacked on shelves next to the cereal.

When it comes to lunch and dinner, there’s an exclusively GF panini press and parchment paper to use for sandwiches, guaranteed to be void of cross contamination. The combos that you can create when it comes to sandwiches are vast. While they may not be the main pillars of Peirce, the sandwich and salad bar always have a plethora of options that can be useful to the GF eater. Nearly of the ingredients and assortment are fresh and free of gluten.

Rice Cooker

Another gluten free guide essential is the rice cooker, which is nestled in between the cereal spouts and cracker shelf in the gluten sensitive area. As a naturally gluten free grain, rice is a great way to add some substance your diet. Mix it with salads or soups to substantiate your food.

rice, cereal, risotto
Jocelyn Hsu

So there you have it. The gluten free guide to survive, nay, thrive in Peirce! Be sure to befriend the AVI team, your friend for all queries on GF foods. Also take a stroll over to designated gluten sensitive area to spruce up your eating options. Grubbing out on the Hill can be much more bountiful than it first appears, with Peirce Hall serving as the epicenter for all your dining needs.