As all of my readers know I cannot eat wheat, rye, barley, or oats becasue of the gluten. I also cannot eat dairy products or anything with corn in it. As such I hang out on a Celiac's website and another listserv and the topic of food pantries and special food needs has come up.
It got me thinking. What would I do in that situation? I eat mainly fresh fruits & veggies and meat and eggs. Nuts and dried fruits. Rice. What packaged stuff I do buy - I tend to save for when we are on the go and I know I will need a snack. Aside from the rice and eggs, most of the items on my list are on the expensive end of the scale per serving and honestly it takes a good quantity of strawberries and lettuce to fill a girl up.
I am blessed that H makes a good wage and we are financially stable. I cook and bake from scratch and am fairly thrifty when shopping. Processed foods are pricey and fairly nutritionally empty. So all in all while what I am buying is slightly more expensive it is nutritionally dense.
But things could change. What would I do? I am sure I could feed the kiddos. They thankfully have no issues. They could eat the free or reduced lunch at school with no fear of a bad reaction. There are options. But me? I would be in trouble I think. Corn Syrup by my estimation is in about 90% of all packaged food items; from canned veggies to cereal to chips.
I am not alone. There is an astounding number of people with food allergies and Celiac's disease. Many of them are children. Many children with autism are on a gluten free diet.
So this holiday season - even as many of us are tightening our belts as the economy is in a free fall - please consider donating some gluten free items to your local food pantry and include a note - requesting that the food pantry set those items aside for a family with a child or parent with a gluten free diet.
Not sure what to buy consider the following:
Instant rice (but check to make sure it is just rice....)
Canned beans (but check to make sure there is no added thickeners.)
Canned veggies (but check the label)
Rice Chex or Rice Crispies
Canned Fruits or applesauce
Dried beans and peas - but not a soup mix - as most mixes are not gluten free - trust me!
fortified soy milk (but check some add barley and that is so not ok for those of us being gluten free)
Call ahead - will the food pantry accept 10lb of potatoes and sweet potatoes? Maybe some apples? All produce items with a fairly long shelf life.
Another great thought is to give the food pantry some $10 gift cards to a local grocery. The food pantry can provide those cards to families in need of special dietary items.
The bonus is that any hungry family could benefit from the above list - but those with someone trying to be gluten free has such a limited menu to choose from - this is just one way to help the food pantry help that family. Those of us with food related allergies are not picky and not trying to be difficult - we are just trying to safeguard our health - glute or whatever the allergen is -is toxic to US.