Gluten Free Foodbanks

The Lempert Report
September 05, 2014

Finding gluten free options can be tough

With the recently enforced FDA labeling guidelines on gluten, gluten-free products are easier to identify. But for celiac disease sufferers who are not always sure where their next meal is coming from, finding gluten free options can be tough.

Two organizations are now working to change that. Pierce's Pantry in Massachusetts and the National Gluten-Free Food Bank Movement in Denver, are reaching out to food pantries to help them better serve gluten-free clients. They are helping food pantries by supplying more options and teaching them to identify and sort the gluten-free donations that they already have.

There is an estimated 2 to 3 million Americans suffering from celiac disease, and while no one really knows how many people with Celiac need food assistance, because no one is collecting the data, these organizations are hoping that their work will inspire others to understand the importance of meeting the needs of this population. 

NPR spoke with, Gail Sawyer of Acton, Mass., who sufferers from celiac disease. She receives food stamps and says she regularly has to supplement these SNAP benefits with food from a pantry.

She told NPR, "It got to the point where it was almost not worth going to the food pantry because at that point there was nothing that I could have." 

Much of the problem is that there's a lot of packaged foods with Gluten. And many cheap staples, like oats, can often be contaminated with gluten.   Supermarkets can help with education and awareness. As people continue to learn about gluten free products and ingredients, supermarkets can offer their support by  clearly displaying gluten free products, offering advice and assistance for those looking for gluten free products and also, highlighting deals, coupons and store brand options for customers who may be using food stamps or looking for gluten free options that are inexpensive.