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Lack of Qualified Kitchens Limits Gluten-Free Options for Ridgewood Schools

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Catering to dietary requirements has always been important, and it’s necessary to recognize the significance of this in public facilities like schools more than anywhere else.

While there have been improvements in this regard over the past couple of decades, there is still a long way to go, especially when it comes to more niche issues like gluten intolerance.

Given that around 20 million people in the US alone suffer from this issue, more should definitely be done. However, critics argue that Ridgewood school kitchens are not up to scratch in this regard.

Let’s explore this topic in more detail and discuss why it matters, and what can be done to address it going forward.

The challenges to overcome

There are varying degrees of gluten intolerance, and while around two percent of children have full-blown celiac disease, this is actually a proportion that has doubled in the last quarter century.

Estimates vary, but as many as seven percent of kids are on this particular spectrum, which means that mealtimes can be a bit of a nightmare.

Controlling diet at home is straightforward, but meals served in school cafeterias are harder to get a handle on.

While there are growing calls for more gluten-free options to be made available, the chief obstacle is administrative; there simply aren’t adequate facilities in the kitchens of schools in Ridgewood and further afield for this change to be pushed through, even if there’s the will and the ability among the catering staff.

The solutions to consider

There is hope for change in the future, and one of the best ways to achieve this is by empowering Ridgewood school kitchens with the means to prepare gluten-free dishes alongside standard meals.

For example, by buying secondhand machinery that can process ingredients without coming in contact with gluten, costs can be kept down. You can have a look at this inventory of used mixers and other processing equipment to see just how value-conscious you can be.

It’s also important to educate both school employees and students about the importance of recognizing gluten intolerance as a legitimate concern, and not just conceiving of it as mere fussiness or fad-following. Those who have a medical diagnosis with this issue genuinely need to steer clear of gluten, most often found in wheat, or else they risk serious ramifications.

Putting proper procedures in place to ensure that food prep takes place in a way that follows official guidelines and avoids gluten-free school meals being contaminated in any way is a priority at the moment.

All of this comes at a price, of course, so local parents and community organizers should consider clubbing together and starting fundraising campaigns in order to help speed up the improvements to Ridgewood school kitchens. This is clearly something that public money should go towards, but if you wait for the wheels of local government bureaucracy to turn and deal with this, it could be years before a satisfactory solution arrives.

The bigger picture

Leaps and bounds have been made in the provision of plant-based menu options in schools, as well as more widely in the world of catering. However, the rise to prominence of this dietary trend has perhaps come at the expense of those who need more support for medical reasons, rather than merely for ethical reasons.

There is a balance to be struck, and hopefully campaigns like this will raise awareness about the plight that people with gluten intolerance face whenever they sit down for a meal. Children rarely have a voice in this situation, so it’s up to adults to speak out for them.

One thought on “Lack of Qualified Kitchens Limits Gluten-Free Options for Ridgewood Schools

  1. let them eat (gluten free) cake

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