Allergy Friendly and Gluten Free Food Pantry Opening April 22nd!
The ReNewed Health Pantry will stock gluten free breads, pastas, flours and more, along with non-dairy milks, egg replacers and sunflower seed spread, an alternative to peanut butter, for those who cannot afford these foods, but medically need them, as long as they provide a doctor's note.
Celiacs who continue to eat gluten containing foods are at risk for Type 1 diabetes, malnourishment, cancer and more. Children and adults with multiple food allergies also risk their health, and possibly life, if they cannot maintain a diet free from their allergens. However, on the flip side of that is possible nutritional deficiences when certain foods have to be removed from the diet due to food allergies. Those who are allergic to milk risk Vitamin D and Calcium deficiencies, which is less than ideal for growing children.
Recent research by Dr. Robert A. Wood of Johns Hopkins Children's Center shows that inner city children have a higher rate of food allergy incidence (10%), than their middle class peers (8%), but are less able to afford the special foods. However, his research only followed peanut, milk and egg allergies, leaving the other 5 of the top 8 allergens (seafood, shellfish, wheat, soy and tree nuts) unaccounted for. As such, he theorizes that children in the inner city have a "probably closer to 15%" rate of food allergy. Inner city children also have a higher rate of asthma which is a deadly combination when mixed with food allergies.
Gluten free food pantries are starting to pop up in Colorado and Massachusetts. Gluten free and allergy friendly foods cost 200-400% more than their gluten and allergy containing counterparts and 50-75% of the foods offered in a food pantry contain gluten, wheat, dairy or nuts. If someone cannot afford to eat gluten and allergy free, there is nowhere to go for help, until now.
About Food Equality Initiative, Inc. (FEI): FEI was founded in 2014 by two food allergy moms, one of whom had to get government assistance (WIC) since she couldn't afford to feed
her two daughters who both have multiple food allergies. Unfortunately, WIC doesn't offer many alternatives when a child has multiple food allergies, and most food pantries do not stock items free from wheat, dairy, peanuts and more. The moms realized there was no safety net for people with multiple food allergies or any type of medically necessary diet and so the need for this special pantry was realized. FEI supplies food, support, education, nutrition counseling and advocates for those who are low-income and have medically restricted diets. FEI has plans to open more of these special pantries in the future.