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Slim Gluten-free Pickings at Most Food Banks

Celiac.com 08/08/2013 - I've happily reported the occasional story about a food bank here or there that has rallied to provide gluten-free food, or about the occasional gluten-free advocate who has helped to collect gluten-free donations, but the truth is that most food banks have minimal gluten-free options for those in need.

That fact, and some of the challenging realities faced by people with limited incomes living with diabetes or celiac disease have been driven home in a new poverty survey by Women's Network PEI.

Over the last few weeks, Women's Network has surveyed people with limited incomes living with diabetes or celiac disease. That survey has turned up stories about people facing difficult decisions about what food they can eat.

Mike MacDonald, manager of Charlottetown's Upper Room Food Bank, says his staff are seeing more people with celiac and diabetes, and that, while staff try to accommodate people with health conditions, it's difficult for them to meet the increasing demand.

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MacDonald relates the story of one woman with celiac who said she knows that she's risking her health by eating food that she should not eat. For people like her, it's often a choice between food that's not very good for them and no food at all.

"It's just more and more people coming through our doors with these restrictions," said MacDonald. Ten years ago, there were far fewer such requests, so it was easier meet gluten-free diet demands. Today there are more and more people making such requests, and there looks to be no end to the rising demand.

The good news is that, based on this poverty survey, the Women's Network will make recommendations to government and local businesses. This will, hopefully, initiate some work toward a solution. Meantime, maybe check in with your local food bank and see what you can do to help.

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