In compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, which prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities by public accommodations, including colleges and universities, the Justice Department announced an agreement on Thursday, December 20th with Lesley University in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The agreement will ensure that students with celiac disease or food allergies are provided with equal meal plans and food services by the university. Lesley has agreed to establish several new practices including:

  • Continually provide ready-made hot and cold gluten- and allergen-free food options in its dining hall food lines;
  • Develop individualized meal plans for students with food allergies, and allow those students to pre-order allergen-free meals, that can be made available at the university’s dining halls in Cambridge and Boston;
  • Provide a dedicated space in its main dining hall to store and prepare gluten-free and allergen-free foods and to avoid cross-contamination;

In addition to these implementations, the university is paying $50,000 in compensation to the students that originally filed the complaint. This settlement not only forces public institutions like universities to provide safe foods to those with celiac disease and others with special needs but also provides incentive for students to advocate for their right to be served safe and nutritional meals. For more on this settlement read the press release.