Two members of the media use the “Gluten Free Zone” as a camera resting spot and desk, respectively. (Photo by Ellie Shechet)

PHILADELPHIA—Since the very first day of the Democratic National Convention, whispers of a so-called “gluten-free zone” in the Wells Fargo Arena trickled across Twitter. But was this extremely considerate zone actually selling anything? I walked down from the press stand in the middle of Andrew Cuomo’s speech on Thursday night to investigate.

On July 25, Free Beacon reported with horror that the DNC would have an all-gender bathroom, compost bins, and a Gluten Free Zone. The picture included in the post is as follows:


The following day, reported live from the Gluten Free Zone, interviewing convention-goers who were largely uninterested in eating there. Behind Dylan Ris is a sign that says GLUTEN FREE ZONE, but as in the previous photo, there is nothing behind it:

Five hours ago, a talk radio host named Bob mistook the Gluten Free Zone—whose territory is to the right of the pictured sign—for the regular wheat-ridden food being sold on the left. Bob, the food to the left is not gluten-free!!! In case you are celiac!!!


When I walked out of the press stand and into the hall, the Gluten Free Zone was to my direct right. Two members of the media appeared to be using the counter as a desk. The Gluten Free Zone was open, but completely empty of food and employees.

“I’m just working here,” the woman replied irritatedly when I asked if she knew where the gluten-free food was. Fine!

Inside the Gluten Free Zone. (Photo by Ellie Shechet)

To my left stood two DNC volunteers in yellow shirts that said “ASK ME” on the back. I asked them if the Gluten Free Zone had ever sold food. “Not since my shift started at 1 p.m.,” one answered apologetically. This was very interesting, but inconclusive.


I approached a DNC volunteer in a slightly different location 10 feet away. When I asked her about the Gluten Free Zone, she laughed. “That’s a good question. I think it’s just there for decoration?”

A security guard seated next to a stairwell across from the Zone took a more defensive approach. “I don’t know why they would have it if they weren’t selling food!” she exclaimed. “Why don’t you go ask the place next door?”


So I did.

“Yeah, they were going to use it, but they didn’t get the order in soon enough,” said the cashier.


“Wow,” I said. It would seem that the Democratic National Convention’s Gluten Free Zone, a token of all that we hold dear, was nothing but an empty promise.

I have reached out to the DNC for comment on the Gluten Free Zone, and will update if we receive a response.

Ellie is a freelance writer and former senior writer at Jezebel. She is pursuing a master's degree in science journalism at Columbia University in the fall.

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