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Financial Assistance For Low Income Families?
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Hi. My baby, Tommy, is 9 months and we have been gluten-free for a month (I'm breastfeeding). I thought he was allergic to wheat, oats, and barely, as well as milk, but he went to an allergist a couple days ago and tested negative for everything. The doc ordered blood tests for celiac disease. I didn't think he could have celiac since he's been sick since the day he was born, but after reading up on the disease I'm pretty sure that he has it. I'm just not sure how it's possible. :-) The allergist told me to keep him on the gluten-free/dairy free diet since it's the only thing that helps, regardless of the test results. Every time in the past that I've read a magazine article about celiac disease I've suspected my husband might have it, and I now realize that my five-year-old daughter, Shirley, and four-year-old son, Jeffy, also have symptoms. I thought Jeffy was faking his stomach ache for the last two years. :( I'm going to call the kids' doc on Monday and see if she can order tests for them, too, in case Tommy gets a false negative. Anyway, Tommy was a "surprise" baby and we could barely afford the two we already had. We buy half our food with food stamps every month. I'm wondering if anyone knows of any government assistance programs for low income families with Celiac disease. I've read on other websites that in the UK docs can prescribe gluten-free flour. Can they do that in the US, too?

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I would think that you could discuss this with your local Social Services Department with a letter of confirmation from a Doctor, should Celiac be the diagnosis. Maybe it could be tied into the WIC Program or something.

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one of the good things about celiac disease is that the treatment, a gluten free diet, technically is not anything additional that you have to buy. you don't have to have the expensive gluten free flours or pre-made replacements in order to have a healthy diet. heck, even a cup of rice is cheaper than a package of ramen noodles (16 cups of cooked brown rice out of a 32oz bag at $3.50 for the bag is just over 20 cents for that cup of brown rice - and the rice is far more nutritious). beans are even cheaper *and* more nutritious.

this is one of the reasons you're highly unlikely to find assistance - there isn't anything special you *have* to buy for the gluten free diet.

reliance on small quantities of protein, in-season and on-sale fresh fruits and vegetables (or on-sale frozen vegetables), and naturally gluten free grains is going to be cheaper than getting specialty foods. two eggs in a corn tortilla is going to be far more nutritious than a bowl of cereal, and assuming a $3 pack of 18 eggs, and a $2 pack of a dozen corn tortillas, that's a 50 cent breakfast providing 200 calories - more than the 120 that cereal provides. Add half a tomato in the eggs and a banana for a $1, 300 calorie breakfast that's going to stick with you. (you may notice that I left juice out of this - juice is just not cost effective when considered from a nutriton for your money perspective.)

there are a lot of recipes posted around here that you might find helpful for stretching your dollar as far as possible.

(as for the dairy-free bit, I'm also dairy-free, as aside from getting calcium containing vegetables, I take a supplement and get plenty of weight bearing exercise.)

that's not to discourage you from applying to WIC for help if you need it for general food purposes, though! they're unlikely to do anything *extra* for the diet, but there's help available and there's no reason not to ask if you qualify if you need it.

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One thing that may be available in your area is a food bank. We have one in our city and it accepts donations of gluten-free food and keeps it separate to provide to Celiacs that need help.

You can make cornbread and polenta very cheaply. Let me know if you need me to post a gluten-free recipe for these. Also, a fun thing for kids is to make cornbread in a waffle iron (preferably one with removeable grids for washing). It makes cornbread a finger food. Polenta can go very well with pasta sauce and burger. Also, you can get rice noodles and some gluten-free flours at an Asian market for very cheap.

Free gluten-free recipe sources (so you don't blow a mint on gluten-free cookbooks) are:

http://www.glutenfreeda.com/

http://www.wildoats.com/u/recipe70/

And recipe source has a gluten-free section but also many recipes that are gluten-free just by nature of the recipe.

http://www.recipesource.com/

Just a few ideas.

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I've heard of a program through WIC that gives low-income families free coupons to use at local farmer's markets. That means you might be able to get free organic, local produce (which is definitely the healthiest food you can eat on a gluten-free diet). I read that many people don't even know about or take advantage of the program. You might look into it :)

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Within Reach (formerly Healthy Mothers Healthy Babies) Has always been a good resouce for me, they are very helpfull. I always used the 800 number (of course I can't find it now) here is the link to their website http://www.hmhbwa.org/

I know WIC would help, most of the coupons are for cereal, milk, cheese, beans, peanut butter, juice, eggs. Since you are still breastfeeding they would also offer carrotts, and tuna fish. Where i live i also get $20 vouchers for the farmers market. I hope this helps.

Jennifer

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One thing that may be available in your area is a food bank. We have one in our city and it accepts donations of gluten-free food and keeps it separate to provide to Celiacs that need help.

You can make cornbread and polenta very cheaply. Let me know if you need me to post a gluten-free recipe for these. Also, a fun thing for kids is to make cornbread in a waffle iron (preferably one with removeable grids for washing). It makes cornbread a finger food. Polenta can go very well with pasta sauce and burger. Also, you can get rice noodles and some gluten-free flours at an Asian market for very cheap.

Free gluten-free recipe sources (so you don't blow a mint on gluten-free cookbooks) are:

http://www.glutenfreeda.com/

http://www.wildoats.com/u/recipe70/

And recipe source has a gluten-free section but also many recipes that are gluten-free just by nature of the recipe.

http://www.recipesource.com/

Just a few ideas.

I would like the cornbread and polenta recipies please!

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All of the above is great advice.... there are also a whole lot of mainstream foods that are gluten-free. HyVee, a midwestern grocery chain, has lots of store brand gluten-free products. WalMart also labels their store brand foods gluten-free. The only really expensive stuff is the prepacked gluten-free foods like flour, cakes, cookies.... stuff that needs flour. Those can be special items that are used for special occasions. When my kids were little, we had some hard times. I ended up on WIC and another govt food program. My daughter was hospitalized a lot and we didn't have insurance. Her doc was afraid that we wouldn't bring her in when she needed medical attention. (Regardless, of the cost, we would have seen to it that she was treated) But my point is that the doc put us in touch with Social Workers who found places to help us. We got her meds for free and hospital and other medical bills paid. There is help out there. I always felt that we had put into the system before and we would again so I didn't feel guilty about getting help. My in laws were very disappointed that we chose to get help through the system but I never did. We did what we needed to do and things did turn around for us.... 10 hospitalizations later and $1,000's of dollars in help. Do what you need to do to get your little one and your husband healthy. There are lots of lists of gluten-free foods out there. I am not good at posting links but perhaps someone else can do that for you.

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Gluten Free Cornbread Recipes -- the following is a variety of gluten-free cornbread recipes. I've made all of these at various times for different reasons. They are gluten-free but not CF although I usually keep Silk on hand and have substituted it with no problem. I use olive oil or melted Benecol in everything I bake but if you want cornbread to really tasty "corny" use corn oil.

I haven't tried any of these since I can have dairy and tend to be a cheese hound but this may help the dairy free guys...

Milk Subs - Buttermilk http://www.godairyfree.org/Table/Dairy-Sub...ubs-Buttermilk/

------------------------------------

WAFFLE IRON CORNBREAD

Amount Ingredient -- Preparation Method

-------- --------------------------------

2 c Cornmeal

1 ts Baking soda

1 ts Salt

2 Eggs, beaten

1 c Buttermilk

1/3 c Benecol, melted

Combine dry ingredients; add eggs and buttermilk, benecol mixing well. Heat a waffle iron until hot. Pour batter into hot waffle iron spreading evenly. Bake until evenly golden brown. Cool thoroughly before freezing leftovers.

Variation

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I have to say the GFP yankee corn muffin mix is good, but it's more expensive since it's a mix.

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Like others have said, no the US government does not provide financial assistance for gluten free foods. The reasoning is that you do not NEED to buy special foods for the diet. Maybe you can't eat your favorite foods anymore, but there are plenty of naturally gluten free items that will provide proper nutrition and that is the US guideline. You can get an official diagnosis of Celiac disease and then claim your gluten free purchases as a tax deduction at the end of the year (a loaf of bread is $2, gluten free bread is $5, you can deduct the $3 difference) as long as combined with all of your other medical expenses you have spent over 7.5% of your adjusted gross income.

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No, you can't get special foods allowances from the government. But some whole food markets do take food stamps. And HEB (if u have one near u) usually carries a few gluten-free things, and they take food stamps. On WIC, the dr can prescribe the special milk (such as potato milk, soy milk, whatever the dr recommends) and WIC will pay for it until your ds is 5.

Make sure you shop around for the best prices. Go to Asian food marts and stock up on the Rice flour, potato starch, tapioca starch, and noodles. It is well worth the trip if you don't live near one. Stock up on it when you can go. I have tubs under my kids beds full of flours, starches, and noodles. Barry farms (online) has alot of gluten-free stuff for a good price. The Xanthan gum is alot cheaper from Barry farms than anywhere else I have seen. Plan ahead and buy all u need at once online to save on shipping. I believe Vance's foods online has something like $5 shipping on any size order,but don't quote me on that!

If you want, PM me and i can send you some great links and recipes from the cookbooks I have. I think the most expensive thing for us was in the beginning, we had to replace so many kitchen items, and I had to have a good mixer to make bread. My mom helped us out alot, and we used alot of our tax return to buy the stuff. It is tough. We have to eat out about 2 times a week because of our schedule, and we can't go somewhere cheap anymore. I finally got a deep freezer ($50 on craigslist) and I have started freezing things like pizza crusts, brownies, cookies, etc. I plan on freezing some casseroles soon. Hopefully that will pretty much eliminate the need to eat out!

It is late, and I can't think straight anymore! If you need more help, let me know. I have 4 kids, and a small budget. So I know how you feel.

ptkds

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I have a suggestion that may or may not help: join a celiac disease support group in your area...sometimes these local chapters buy in a group and maybe get group discounts or when combining their mail orders the shipping charges are shared by all (which would be less than if you ordered it yourself). The group may even know where the best prices in area are and share receipes and their collective knowledge. Also they may be involved in food co-ops.

Best wishes,

Deb

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I was in a Shoprite yesterday (just by chance, I don't shop there) and I was shocked to see they have an entire gluten free section in there "specialty foods" area. It was tremendous for a regular grocery store. They had all the varieties of Tinkyada pasta as well as some other brands I don't remember including lasagna noodles. They had all of the Envirokids cereals and cereal bars as well as the Enjoy Life cookies that are not only gluten free but allergen free as well which is great because your child can't have milk. Doesn't Shoprite take food stamps? I hope this means the regular stores will be selling more gluten free foods. And if you stick to the necessaties and only buy things like cookies in small quantities once in a while, the cost is not too bad.

Nicole

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I feel you're pain. Believe me. For the first two or three weeks I cried everyday because I couldn't figure out how I was going to make ends meet. Iwas also eating alot of the prepackaged stuff. I think they key is getting used to going diffrent places for diffrent things. I go to the farmers market for my veggies, meat,and some other stuff. I go to Kroger for somethings, and Whole Foods or Trader Joe's for other. I traveled alot before I got sick and am starting to travel agian now that I'm feeling better. I'm trying to work out a food plan when I travel so I'm not worried about what I can eat. I forgot about the food bank thing. I'll check that out today. Food Stamps will help if you can qualify.

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No, you can't get special foods allowances from the government. But some whole food markets do take food stamps. And HEB (if u have one near u) usually carries a few gluten-free things, and they take food stamps. On WIC, the dr can prescribe the special milk (such as potato milk, soy milk, whatever the dr recommends) and WIC will pay for it until your ds is 5.

----snip----

I forgot about that -- yes, Whole Foods in our area does accept food stamps. I remember my Mom specifically checking for a young mother in her church. She has a kid that is diagnosed as autistic but a gluten-free/CF diet seems to help.

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The diet will seem more expensive at first because you're trying to buy gluten-free alternatives to your old gluten foods. You have to start thinking differently if you want to save money. Use potatoes or rice as a base instead of pasta. Use rice cakes or corn tortillas (you can get 3 dozen of these for $1-2) for sandwiches. Hit up a grocery store that's got a lot of Asian or Mexican food - that's where you can find the cheap tortillas and huge bags of rice flour. I can get 4lbs of rice flour for $2. If I buy Bob's Red Mill it's $3 for 20oz.

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I also completely understand about doing things on a tight budget. Like the others have stated, avoid the gluten free specialty products and stick with the basic, cheap staples. For breakfast I either make eggs in tortillas, eat store brand corn cereal (check the label!) with whatever fruit is on sale, or peanut butter and banana on rice cakes. For lunch, I make up a huge roasting pan of rice and beans for about $5, this provides me with about 30 lunches, which I freeze and reheat throughout the month (let me know if you want the recipe) or reheat summer soup (again, let me know if you want the recipe). Then, for dinner I normally eat whatever vegetable is on sale with whatever meat was on sale (you can get London Broil for $2/lb. It is great if you marinate it!) and rice or potatoes.

The easiest way to waste money on a gluten free diet: gluten free bread, cookies, and pastries. They don't taste like the real thing and cost a ton more!

It is important to be healthy, and cooking the food that is already gluten free is not only healthier, but cheaper, than cooking with gluten.

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I'm wondering if anyone knows of any government assistance programs for low income families with Celiac disease.

I know of a family in our town with a son who has Celiac. They receive assistance

from the local Children's Miracle Network. They had to fill out some paperwork about their income, number in the family, etc. Once certified, I think it is a simpler form for annual approval. I believe the mom told me they get $1000 per year toward the cost of gluten-free foods. Their paperwork included a doctor's certification that a gluten-free diet was required, and CMN set up the $1000 credit at one of the local health food stores.

You might see if your area has something like this.

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To me, the most expensive part of celiac, other than bread, is the breakfast cereals. Other than these two products, we aren't buying anything different or special that is more money than normal.

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I was diagnosed 2 years ago. I too was in a panic trying to figure out how I was going to pay for it all. We are a single income family (I work, my husband stays home with the kids). I can honestly say that our grocery bill has not increased much since diagnosis, and we keep a totally gluten-free house. I feed a family of 5 for about $250 - 300 per month.

We shop in bulk and shop a lot at asian grocery stores. There you will find specialty flours and rice pasta for dirt cheap. amazon .com has many gluten-free items in their grocery section (see this link). If I am looking for a particular cereal or specialty gluten-free item, I check there first to see if it will save money. Once you get a little braver, you may want to bake your own gluten-free bread. This is a real money saver, especially since there are very few pre-baked gluten-free breads that taste good, IMO. I very rarely use mixes as they can be expensive. If I have a recipe I like, I mix up the dry ingredients in batches and add the wet ingredients when I am ready to bake.

HTH

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----snip----amazon .com has many gluten-free items in their grocery section (see <a href="http://amazon .com/s/ref=nb_ss_gw/105-1090083-3157221?url=search-alias%3Dgrocery&field-keywords=gluten+free&Go.x=9&Go.y=7" target="_blank">this link</a>). If I am looking for a particular cereal or specialty gluten-free item, I check there first to see if it will save money. ----snip----

HTH

One bonus to check for with Amazon, some of the items are eligible for free shipping if you order more than $25 and you don't pay sales tax on it (at least not in my state). I can get Pamela's and GFP mixes much cheaper on Amazon than at Whole Foods. Same for Lundberg RiceXpress (I use like a quickie gluten-free hamburger helper). For some reason, Namaste is still cheaper at Whole Foods, at least in my area.

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When you are at the Asian market, try some Rice Noodles. There are some that make fine substitutes for SPaghetti, I eat mine with Pasta (tomato) sauce all the time. I like it better than the $3/box stuff from the health food store, and I'm lucky that I don't have to worry about cost too much. It's cheap too, I've seen it for $1 for 3 boxes.

It's kind of my go to when I'm tired, lazy, and don't feel like cooking.

Geoff

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Thanks for the amazon .com tip. I never thought of that!

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Wow! Thanks for all the suggestions!

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