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coeliac volunteers?

I was wondering if you have had volunteers with Coeliac disease. Would there be sufficient variety of general food which would be 

sufficient to eat gluten free. I realise the information states specific diets cannot be catered for 

however can you could select salad , vegetables , meat , eggs etc is it possible to get by. 


  • KatieStullKatieStull Posts: 19
    Hi Alison!

    Good to hear from you and that's a great question. We have had volunteers who can't eat gluten, either by personal preference or because of allergies. We also have had volunteers with celiac disease that can have absolutely no form of gluten whatsoever. It is challenging to live on board with celiac disease, purely because you aren't cooking the food and can't control what is put out. In the galley as the cooks are preparing the food, they don’t do anything to accommodate specialty diets but they do their best to inform the crew what is in the food. As you go through the food lines in the Dining Room, you will notice that some food is labeled ‘GF’ or ‘Veg’. Those are the main things that are labelled but we have in the past labeled things that contained nuts, dairy or other allergens if it’s not visible to the eye. If you’re going through the food line and have a question about a food item ask the Team Leader on duty, they will know or know who to ask about the food in question. I have to confess that since I don't have celiac disease, I don't pay special attention to how many meals on average per week are entirely gluten-free. I know that if a recipe can be made without gluten we do our best to do so. If there is a meal that is better with gluten (meatballs, for instance) we'll make a gluten-free option that is available on request.

    I know that other crew members with celiac disease do a lot of their own cooking and bring a lot of staples with them: oatmeal, flour to make their own bread (we don't make GF bread on board), etc. There are also some snacks in the ship shop that are gluten-free. 

    We are working on making our entire menu with all ingredients digital so that you can log into Navigator and read the recipe for yourself to see if there is any ingredient in the meal that you would prefer not to eat.

    I realize this isn't super clear but I hope it gives you an idea of  what life on board would look like for you. Please let me know if you have any other questions! 

    Katie Stull

  • Thanks Katie you have been very helpful. I am glad to hear other Coeliacs

    have been still able to volunteer. 
  • Hi Alison,

    I have celiacs, and have been living completely gluten free for 27+ years, and am fairly sensative to small amounts - so if I am aware of any trace of it in a product, I do not partake.

    (Just for clarification because lots of people have different sensativity levels).

    After spending the last 3 months aboard the Africa Mercy, I can say that I'm very happy with the dining room/galley services.

    I came to the ship expecting very little (Mercy Ships says that they do not cater to special diets at all), and my wife brought a lot of baking mixes and snacks along which were GF.

    While I still recommend bringing a good supply of these things (as my favorites are hard to find even back home, much less in French speaking West Africa), I am happy to say that I would have survived just fine if I had not brought anything at all.  

    I think these menu plans do change over time, so next year may be slightly different, but:
    • (Almost every) Breakfast has hard boiled eggs (sometime scrambled) and 3 or 4 days a week has plain yogurt.

      This is the most limited meal for me, so if anything, I suggest bringing a supply of your favorite GF cereal or GF oats for oatmeal.

      A person could probably survive a whole year on eggs and coffee, but you'd be happier if you have a little variety.

    • Every Lunch and Dinner has both plain sticky white rice, and green salad = lettuce, tomatoes, carrots available -

      So even if the main entre is glutinous, you won't starve. This is 100% of the time, and has never missed.  So I have eaten just the rice and salad I think 3 times out of 3 months because the other food was not GF, but at least one of the times, I went back to the line afterwards and I saw that on the other side of the lunch line, the same food was labelled GF (just hadn't been labelled in my line).  So of course when feeding 500 or 700 people there will be small mistakes and that's part of the risk you take coming.  But again, in my experience, I've been very happy with the dining room and galley staff and the food has been better (and more GF) than I expected.

      And the Lunch soups have almost all been GF too - which was a big surprise to me, most soups in the USA are thickened with wheat starch.

    • Additionally the Main course for both lunch and Dinner is 80% marked GF

      (including most meat dishes (chicken, sausage, hot dogs, pork chops- (of which there is usually at least one), curries, stir fries, etc).

      Also often is some kind of baked or roasted potatoes, or fries - which as you know are also fine.
    So that's some more details which hopefully answers your question. - yes it is totally possible to get by just fine on board being GF.

    Will Morrison

    System Administrator (IS)
  • Hi Will, 

    Thankyou so much for taking the time to reply about the availability of gluten free food on board. Your first hand information has been fantastic as I was a bit concerned from the website that it would not be viable for me to volunteer.  I really appreciate the information provided. 

    Thankyou and God bless

  • KatieStullKatieStull Posts: 19
    Fabulous information; thanks Will!!
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