Justice Department agreement ensures Lesley University meal plan accommodates those with celiac disease, food allergies

The Department of Justice has reached an agreement with Lesley University under which the university will provide hot and cold gluten- and allergen-free foods in its dining hall food lines.

The agreement will “ensure students ... can obtain safe and nutritional food options,” Thomas E. Perez, assistant attorney general for the civil rights division, said in an announcement last month.

“The agreement ensures that Lesley’s meal program is attentive to the schedules and demands of college students” who could be harmed by their food, “an issue colleges and universities across the country need to consider,” Perez said.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

The settlement was reached under the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Dec. 20 statement said.

Celiac disease is a genetic autoimmune digestive disorder in which people cannot tolerate gluten, a protein in wheat, barley, malt, and rye flours, according to the Encyclopaedia Brittanica. It is not an allergy, according to the Boston Children’s Hospital website.

The settlement also calls for the university to make a variety of other accommodations for affected students, including developing individual meal plans for students and allowing them to preorder their meals; dedicating space in the main dining hall to store and prepare gluten-free and allergen-free foods; and training for staff and food service workers.

The settlement also calls for the university to pay $50,000 in compensatory damages to previously identified students who have celiac disease or food allergies, the Justice Department said.