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The Gluten Free Give Back: Food Banks

We’ve all heard of Oprah’s Big Give show from a few years ago. I am suggesting during this Celiac Disease Awareness Month to do a “Gluten Free Give Back”, as we take time to give back to this disease that has changed our lives so significantly.

During this month I plan to do occasional postings on how we can give back to the gluten free community.  This post is looking at food banks.

We all are likely VERY possessive of our gluten free food– it’s so expensive why would we just GIVE it to someone? I’ll be honest, that is one of my initial reactions, but it turns out in this bad economy there is a need for gluten-free food at your local food bank.

Needing Gluten Free Food at the Food Bank

Last week I set out to learn more about the need in my own community in Minnesota. I talked with Lisa Aune of Second Harvest Heartland and she said,

“We do occasionally receive requests from some of our food shelf partners about the availability of gluten free food for clients of theirs.” Can you imagine being caught in a place where you need to use the food shelf and you can’t even find food options that you can eat?

The gluten-free need has been noticed elsewhere too.  In Massachusetts Pierce’s Pantry is a food shelf specifically for gluten free needs. You can find out how to donate or receive food at this helpful website.

Back in 2009 in Loveland, Colorado, they opened the country’s first gluten free food bank at the House of Neighborly Services. Organizer Dee Valdez of  GlutenFreeDee.com told Tricia Thompson of GlutenFreeDietitian.com what prompted her to take action.

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“I remember talking to a mother who had a sick 7 year old who had Celiac Disease. The exasperated mom said she had to choose between feeding her whole family or just feeding her sick daughter the very expensive gluten free food she could find. The distraught mother said, referring to her celiac daughter, “She’s just going to have to live with diarrhea.” — Dee Valdez, Gluten Free Food Bank Organizer and Gluten Free Advocate. Interview on www.glutenfreedietitian.com

That really is a heartbreaking story, but it lead to fabulous work by Valdez.  She also played a role in the new Gluten Free Food Pantry for low-income celiacs in Pittsburgh.  The National Foundation for Celiac Awareness profiled the food bank opening on its website recently.  It just opened this spring.

How Can You Get Active?

So what if there is nothing like any of the aforementioned food banks in your area?  Teri Gruss had some ideas in her about.com article. She recommends talking to your local food shelf and asking them to put a call out for gluten-free donations.  But you could also organize a food drive in your community or with your support group.

Back in Minnesota with my contact at Second Harvest Heartland, she supported the idea of donating gluten-free food,

“…I would suggest that you ask your readers to make those donations to their local food shelf. That way they are keeping the donations in their own community, and I’m sure the food shelves would be thrilled to get it.”  Lisa Aune of Second Harvest Heartland

Nadine Grzeskowiak, RN CEN of GlutenFreeRN.com had a great suggestion, to donate gluten free food to the Stamp Out Hunger food drive that happens on May 14th.  She says, “…put non-perishable GLUTEN FREE food in a bag in your mailbox and your local mail carrier will pick it up and take it to the local food banks.”

I will be donating gluten free food to my area food bank soon and I will let you know how it goes!

As always, Celiac.com welcomes your comments (see below).


Spread The Word







4 Responses:

 
Georgianna

said this on
07 May 2011 8:53:50 AM PDT
Amy, this is a great idea! As a social work student I often wonder what it would like to be facing hunger and poverty with no where to turn. I am glad that I am not the only one with this in mind!

 
Tangie

said this on
28 Mar 2012 3:59:47 PM PDT
This article is especially touchy for me...I am a single mother of 3 gorgeous girls. My baby is celiac and l have been faced with the decisions of "buy for the baby" or "buy for everyone else". No one can possibly know the heartbreak of having to make that decision. I have had to use the food bank and unfortunately for someone facing no money for a month and only receiving enough food for a few days, the frustration and desperation is compounded when in those few days of food there is nothing my baby can eat because it has almost all gluten containing foods. I am working hard to get to a better place to be able to support and care for my family, but what do l do in the meantime? Gluten free food donations would be a huge help to those who are in need.

 
Dee Valdez

said this on
21 Jun 2012 11:59:58 AM PDT
Tangie, when you have such an urgent need, I'd suggest going to a local church and telling them of the situation. Ask if anyone in their church could "adopt" your family to assisting in feeding you for 3 months. Perhaps you could even attend a M.O.P.S. (Mother's of Preschoolers) group to ask for help there. If you are still needing help, please let me know.

 
Dee Valdez

said this on
21 Jun 2012 12:00:47 PM PDT
Well done article Amy! Great information and suggestions!




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I believe the talk around this forum is that cheerios are not gluten free enough for people with celiac at this time. I don't know if anything has changed on that and when their lawyer calls me I'll quickly delete this. haha

Could be we generally say get off of dairy for a few months when going gluten free. The part of the intestines that produce the enzymes, and help break down dairy are associated with the tips of the villi, which are the most damaged if not gone in celiacs. THIS is why most of us end up with a lactose intolerance early on. And most can introduce it later after healing. As to her symptoms with it there was a bunch of research about dairy permeated the gut and causing neurological issues in a autism study I was looking at years ago. And there have been other studies about damaged intestines and how the hormones in milk can easier effect ones body. Personally I also have a huge grudge against dairy on a personal level as it is not natural to suck on a cows tits and drink the stuff, nor your dogs, nor a rabbits......I mean come on even Human Breast milk you would find odd to drink as an adult right? Back in the past dairy was a great way to get calories and fats when there was famine, etc around I mean it is meant to make a calf grow into a 500+lb cow. But on a genetic and hormonal level it is not really for human consumption and now days the whole corporate BS propaganda push and dairy farms shove that oh its healthy stuff down your throat. There are plenty of dairy free options for everything feel free to message me if you need help finding anything I have been dairy free for over a decade.

The full celiac panel checks TTG IGA and IGG, DGP IGA and IGG, IGA, EMA as Jmg stated above. Your test included TTG IGA and IGA. If your IGA was low, a low on TTG IGA would be inconclusive. But your IGA is fine. A high on any one test is a positive for celiac and should lead to an endoscopy for confirmation. So I'd get tested for TTG IGG, DGP IGA and IGG and EMA since there are symptoms. Warning I'm not a doc.

I did a gluten challenge for my endoscopy and requested a second blood test after my follow up with the consultant. I never did see those results but my GP said no celiac was indicated: Which left me gluten free for life, that wasn't an option after the challenge, but with a less satisfactory diagnosis, one by omission rather than the definitive 'you're celiac' one I was expecting. Yes! I have been 'properly' glutened on a couple of occasions but on several more I've detected a change or a reaction based on what could only have been trace amounts. NCGS is as yet poorly understood but patients tend to have more neuro symptoms than digestive. That's definitely been my experience, although it was only after going gluten free that I realised quite how many digestive symptoms I had just been living with as 'normal'. Close friends and family get the full explanation. 'I have an auto immune disease similar to 'coeliac etc.' If they stay awake long enough I'll tell them about the less than perfect testing process I went through or the Columbia Med research and the possibility of a blood test soon. They can see the difference between me on gluten and off it so they understand its not all in my head* If I'm ordering food in a restauarant or asking questions about food prep etc I will often just self declare as coeliac - people are aware of that and understand those requests are medical rather than fad diet based. I don't have any problem doing this, I'm not going to claim that and then cheat on dessert for instance and to be honest I expect once the research is complete the two conditions may wind up alongside others as different faces of the same coin. In the meantime I safeguard my health and avoid getting into a detailed conversation about genuine gluten sensitivity versus faux hipster posturing! *apart from the bits which are in my head

I originally had it on my face and scalp. (22 years ago) First biopsy with dermatologist came back as folliculitis. Then when I had a new outbreak on my upper back, she was able to remove a nice clean blister and we got the diagnosis of DH. She started me on Dapsone (100mg/day) and gluten free diet. Now I take 25-50 mg/day. My understanding at the time was that DH was the skin version of Celiac. Did a lot of research on my own. I met Dr. Peter Green at a Gluten free Vendors Fair and he said that a diagnosis of DH IS a diagnosis of Celiac, even if no other symptoms. So I stay gluten-free