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Save Me For Gluten Free - A Food Bank Initiative

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Food Insecurity and Celiac Disease

Are you food insecure? It is important that individuals with celiac disease self-advocate to ensure they stay safe and healthy.  We’ve provided some tips to help empower your journey.

  • Tell your food agency/service that you have been diagnosed celiac and you can only have foods that are gluten free
  • Do not accept products that contain gluten. Explain how serious your symptoms can be and how the constant damage to your small intestine will impact your health over time
  • Request a copy of CCA’s new labelling guideline give to the service agency. Walk them through what is safe for you.  Click here.
  • Offer to review the food labels. It will help educate the service providers and give you assurance that the food is safe.
  • Ask the service agency to set aside gluten-free items for you and others in a designated area especially flours or items that may more easily get cross-contacted
  • Ask them to post a sign that gluten-free food is available upon request
  • Let your local CCA Chapter or National office know if you have trouble getting gluten-free products. We can contact agencies, national food producers or encourage individual donations.

Need more help? Contact our Client Support Desk at clientsupport@celiac.ca

We are bringing gluten-free food to those in need.

COVID-19 and food inflation has made the issue of hunger greater than ever before with more people finding themselves food insecure. For people who have celiac disease, the issue is even more acute because of the difficulty of getting access to safe gluten-free food. You can read the latest report from Statistics Canada here.

Too often, when a person with celiac disease visits a food bank or agency, they are given food that they cannot consume. In addition, when gluten-free food is donated, except for some noted cases below, it is often bundled in with  gluten-filled products and handed out to anyone, not just those who need it.  It is simply due to a lack of awareness and understanding among the general population and volunteers who work at food banks. It is a waste of donated resources and time for everyone. CCA is hoping with help from the gluten-free community that we can bridge this gap and help people who often fall through the cracks.

We are urging you to:

  • Shop for gluten-free food and donate the items using the CCA’s #SaveMeForGlutenFree labels to alert food bank volunteers to the need for people with celiac disease.
  • Advocate for people with celiac disease by volunteering with your local CCA Chapter and/or for your local food bank to help sort and maintain a stock of gluten-free items in their local food bank or hamper program.

It’s Easy to Help – as long as you know how to shop for gluten-free food!

Watch this video or follow the steps below!

    • Step 1: Purchase non-perishable gluten-free food items from your local or online grocery retailer.

    • Step 3: Take to your local food bank or put in your grocery retailer collection bin. Click this link – Food Banks Offering Gluten-Free Food (Updated Spring 2020).

    • When donating gluten-free food to a food bank, ask in advance if the food will be set aside or saved for families or individuals who require this special dietary food. In some cases, GF food is mixed in with other foods or staff may not understand how food labelling works for those with special diets. If they are unable to guarantee GF food, please encourage them to reach out to CCA for assistance with education, resources and suppliers.

For people with celiac disease, gluten-free food is a MUST, not a lifestyle choice. For these individuals, even the smallest amount of gluten can damage their small intestines and cause a chain reaction within their bodies as it creates an autoimmune response which overtime can cause lasting damage and serious health implications.

Food Banks List and Agency Support

CCA and it’s independent chapter organizations are pleased to offer this list of local food banks and agencies across Canada to identify locations that are able to provide with confidence gluten-free food to those in need. Please check with the agency on services provided and verify ability to provide gluten free as the ability to provide food may change daily or weekly.

If you are a food bank that is offering gluten-free food and would like to be added to this growing list, contact info@celiac.ca.

Food Banks Offering Gluten Free

Resources for Food Banks

Learn More.

Listen in as Sue Jennett speaks with Jessica Danford about food insecurity.  In the light of the current corona virus situation in Canada which has led to many job losses, Jess has an insightful view of the struggles of those on a gluten free diet, who for whatever reasons are having trouble affording the safe food they need.  Sue also speaks with Melissa Secord, Executive Director of the Canadian Celiac Association about their efforts to meet the urgent needs of people with celiac disease during this difficult time.

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