Press Release – Denver’s First Sustainable Gluten Free Food Bank Opens
June 27, 2013
CONTACT: Dee Valdez
Gluten Free Dee
Founder of the National Gluten Free Food Bank Movement
Denver’s First Sustainable Gluten Free Food Bank Supported by 7 Colorado Gluten Free Food Manufacturers
“It’s time to get this very important work done. Parents and their kids are waiting for us.”
Nearly 20 gluten free food banks have been established across the country. Bienvenidos Food Bank in Denver’s Highland’s will be the first sustainable option available in Denver, Colorado, the most gluten free friendly city in the nation.
Denver’s first sustainable gluten free food bank will be dedicated today during a moving experience in 100 degree heat. From 4:00 – 5:30 pm Thursday, June 27th residents are encouraged to bring gluten free food to donate to those fed by Bienvenidos Food Bank in the hip Highland’s neighborhood in Denver. The food bank that serves more than 900 people a week is located in the basement of Our Merciful Savior Episcopal Church located at 2224 W. 32nd Ave. Denver, CO 20211.
The celebrated opening of Denver’s first gluten free food bank is supported by 7 Colorado-based companies including Udi’s Gluten Free, Glutino Foods, Qrunch Foods, Sandwith Petals, Gluten Free Things, North Denver Sausage and Yumbana Shoppe.
“We have hundreds of restaurants with gluten free menus and several with Celiac-friendly menus here in Denver, but we’re doing an inadequate job feeding the hungry who must eat gluten free. That is changing,” says the Founder of the National Gluten Free Food Bank Movement, Dee Valdez, a.k.a. Gluten Free Dee.
“The momentum to feed the poor that are physically unable to eat foods containing gluten is great, but needs to be focused,” says Valdez. “Generous gluten free product manufacturers are opening their checkbooks, and their hearts. They understand the impact of their generosity. It will have a ripple effect today, and for generations to come. It’s that important.”
Regular dependence on local pantries is becoming the norm rather than filling a gap for emergency situations.
“Emergency food from pantries is no longer being used simply to meet temporary acute food needs. A majority of the clients being served by the Feeding America network (54%) have visited a food pantry in six or more months during the past year.” Food Banks: Hunger’s New Staple, Feeding America
The poor that suffer from gluten intolerance*, or Celiac Disease**, struggle to find options that won’t make them sick. Mothers and fathers struggling to feed their kids make gut wrenching choices when they rely on food banks to feed their gluten free child. Most often, they must choose between food they know will fill their child with pain or not filling their child’s belly at all. Stomach pain is only one side effect the kids suffer.
“…food insecurity and hunger together with other correlates of poverty, can dramatically alter the architecture of children’s brains, making it impossible for them to fulfill their potential.”
Child Food Insecurity: The Economic Impact, Feeding America
Gluten Free Dee founded the National Gluten Free Food Movement December 2009 in Loveland Colorado after recognizing that the gluten sensitive and Celiac hungry had few or no options for food that wouldn’t make them sick. “It was toughest when a parent would call to find out how to feed their Celiac child,” says Valdez, the parent of 2 kids who have taken themselves off gluten as adults so they could finally find relief to a host of symptoms.
Valdez organized a gluten-free pantry section in her community’s food bank, the House of Neighborly Service. The first of its kind in the United States, the House of Neighborly Service now distributes food to needy families who are on special diets. For Valdez, the idea was sparked by a phone call she received 17 years before.
“In the early 1990s, a single mom called me because she didn’t know how to feed her little girl who’d just been diagnosed with celiac disease,” recalls Valdez, who headed a local Celiac chapter at the time. I went through a list of products and her response was,
‘How can I afford that? I have to choose between feeding my daughter and feeding all my kids. What would you do? I guess my daughter will just have to learn to live with diarrhea.’
Nearly 20 years ago, Valdez gathered up 6 bags of gluten free groceries, left it on the mother’s doorstep and vowed she would someday find a way to provide help for ongoing needs like this.
A few weeks ago Valdez got a similar call from a single, disabled mother of 4 near Columbus Ohio, asking for immediate and ongoing help feeding her son diagnosed with Celiac Disease 3 weeks earlier
“He had Celiac!!!! I have never been so thrilled to find out my child has a disease. It might sound odd, but I finally had answers. Hooray!!! …As soon as the excitement wore off, I started feeling overwhelmed.”
Valdez took swift action Saturday when the call came in asking for help with food after resources were exhausted feeding gluten free food to this 3 year old. “Social media is a powerful tool to get the word out about a pressing need.,” says Valdez. “Twitter and Facebook allowed several people to meet an immediate need for this little boy. But a more permanent solution needs to be put into place because the cost of the food is so high.”
“On average, gluten-free products were a whopping 242% pricier than the gluten-containing versions.” Time Magazine, March 13, 2012
The Buy One Give One Campaign will be used around the nation to get gluten free sections into existing food banks. “It was the perfect pairing of community support, the systematic approach I’ve developed and manufacturer generosity,” says Valdez. “It’s time to get this very important work done. Parents and their kids are waiting for us.”
# # #
Individuals who experience distress when eating gluten-containing products and show improvement when following a gluten-free diet may have gluten sensitivity (GS), instead of celiac disease (CD). These individuals are unable to tolerate gluten and develop an adverse reaction when eating gluten. GS has not been well researched, but there is a significant amount of clinical evidence supporting the existence of this condition. In early 2012 GS was classified by an international group of recognized celiac experts as a distinct condition. It is estimated to affect up to ten times more people than CD Gluten Intolerance Group
(Pronounced: SEE-lee-ack disease)
Celiac disease (CD), also known as celiac sprue or gluten-sensitive enteropathy, is a genetically linked autoimmune disorder that can affect both children and adults. In people with CD, eating certain types of grain-based products set off an immune response that causes damage to the small intestine. This, in turn, interferes with the small intestine’s ability to absorb nutrients found in food, leading to malnutrition and a variety of other complications. The offending amino acid sequences are collectively called “gluten” and are found in wheat, barley, rye, and to a lesser extent, oats* (WBRO). Related proteins are found in triticale, spelt, kamut.