Tucson- People with Celiac disease cannot eat gluten because it will damage their small intestine. That means steering clear of anything containing wheat, rye, or barley. Because of cross-contamination, that pretty much takes every item on a school menu off the table for any student with the disease. But Josephine Taylor, a sophomore at Canyon Del Oro High School, has come up with a simple solution, put a gluten-free microwave in every school.
Taylor has two immune diseases, Hashimoto’s, which affects the thyroid and Celiac disease. She has not let either of them hold her back. Among her accomplishments, capturing the Miss Pinal County title, a platform she is using to help other students like her have more choices for lunch at school.
“What that helped me do is to get a platform and more of a voice to go and talk to different food service people and districts across the state”, said Taylor, “And also I have been to the capital three times to talk about this issue with senators and representatives up there.
Taylor is not asking schools to change the food they serve but instead provide something that will allow others like her to have lunch just like everybody else.
“Really what I am trying to do is to get a dedicated gluten-free microwave put into school’s all across Arizona so that kids with Celiac disease are able to eat hot meals just like all the other students.”
Josephine Taylor’s efforts are paying off, the Amphi School District recently allowed her family to set up a microwave, they paid for, in a dedicated area at CDO. She also continues to push lawmakers to pass legislation to fund gluten-free microwaves for all schools in Arizona and said she is determined to take her mission nationally to help other children with immune diseases across the country.