So, I read a message board for gluten free folk semi-regularly. There was a sad post up a couple of days ago: a man with celiac disease had been rejected from a Salvation Army food pantry because they said they couldn’t serve him. The exact circumstances are difficult to know. Was it a volunteer who didn’t understand? Was it someone who though it was a “fad diet”? However, the mere fact that an unemployed man who depends on a relatively simple selection of food in order to prevent major health problems was not served is incredibly depressing.

More institutions are making efforts to better serve those in need.  The personal responsibility horse has been beaten to death, but for those with allergies or celiac disease it must be a right, not merely a privilege.  For anyone with a nutrition-related disease, encouraging proactive eating habits is vital to improving well-being and simple life.

Some examples of the ways pantries are working to better serve their constituents:

  • self-serve grocery model
  • cultural education for pantry coordinators
  • health-based outreach to pantry coordinators

Limitations remain– what do you donate to your local food drive?  What resources do they have to work with?  Help by donating your time, money, or allergy friendly foods.

A bag of rice, some beans, peanut butter or tuna, and canned fruit or vegetables would all have been safe and typically available foods.  Not serving him was a shocking gap, and was hopefully more a miscommunication than a blatant disregard for the integrity of his intestinal cells.  Nevertheless, it is an issue that should be considered more often.