First gluten-free food bank opens

Today marks the opening of the nation's first gluten-free food bank, in Loveland, Colorado. Here's some of the press release info:

Nation's First Gluten Free Food Banks Opens In Loveland Colorado

Loveland’s House of Neighborly Service will be the test site for the new program Dee Valdez is designing to be implemented in communities across the country. There are scattered efforts to gather gluten free food for the holidays or offer a monthly gift card to help offset the extra expense of a gluten free diet. “What I see that is missing is a systematic approach to feeding gluten free families in need,” say Valdez. “If someone has celiac disease or a gluten intolerance, they can become very ill in the short and long term if they eat gluten containing food because that is all they have.” Bread is plentiful in food banks across the country. Gluten free bread is not.

Valdez, or Gluten Free Dee, as she is called, intends to change that. Denver’s Raquelita’s Tortillas has set up a corporate giving program where 1% of the sales of their new Gluten Free Flatbread, Sandwich Petals, will be donated each month to a gluten free food bank. Sandwich Petals creator, Rich Schneider, will challenge other corporations to do the same during the Ribbon Cutting at the new Gluten Free Food Bank.

“There is a great need to develop a systematic approach to establishing Gluten Free Food Banks across the nation,” says Valdez, who was diagnosed with celiac disease 17 years ago. About 15 years ago, Valdez remembers talking to a mother with 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.“ “I was devastated by her reality,” says Valdez, “so I gathered as much gluten free food as I could and left it on her doorstep. Unfortunately, my reality didn’t allow me to help parents like her again, until now.”

In addition to the flatbread, other gluten free food donations are now being accepted at House of Neighborly Service, 565 N. Cleveland, Loveland, CO 80537. It is asked that the food be identified as gluten free when dropped off or shipped. “We are excited to be able to provide an option for people with gluten sensitivities who are financially struggling, especially considering the cost of a gluten free diet,” says Erin Becerra House of Neighborly Service (HNS) Food Program Manager. HNS provides food baskets for an average of more than 500 Loveland/Berthoud area households each month. The mission of the food program is to provide wholesome food to nourish people who are food insecure. Families in need of gluten free food, who live in the Berthoud, Loveland areas served by House of Neighborly Service need to be screened for services Monday – Thursday. Please call 970-667-4939 to find out the appropriate paperwork to bring to determine eligibility. "This is an opportunity to be part of a group setting a precedent that will spread nationwide,” says Valdez. “We can make a difference. We can change someone’s life."

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