(This is re-written from a post I did back in 2009, but it is still relevant today)
Way back years ago when I was a divorced mother of three young children, trying very hard on a very tight budget to make ends meet, I was the recipient of a food box from a community organization at Christmas. I was happy to get it, but one of the things I have always remembered from that experience was how many cans of hominy were in it.
I did appreciate getting the food, but I remember thinking “I wonder how many people really eat that stuff?” and wondering why, if you don’t eat something yourself, would you put it in the donation box for others. Do people think that just because we are unable to provide for ourselves for a minute that our taste buds or nutritional needs are going to change? I have to say here that I am not complaining about someone putting something that is inexpensive in a food donation box. I am talking about hominy in particular because my family never ate it when I was growing up, and I never bought it myself. It is just something that there was a LOT of in that foodbox I received, and my children wouldn’t eat it. I cooked it and put it on the table, but it was a wasted effort. So, ever since then, I have been more thoughtful about what I buy to donate to others. If my family won’t eat it, why would I give it to someone else? That is all I am asking.
Back then, it was just a matter of tastes. If I were the recipient of a food box now, though, it would be a matter of whether or not I would be able to eat the foods that I received. I am not alone in this line of thinking. Dee Valdez, who was diagnosed with Celiac Disease 17 years ago, remembers talking to a mother with a sick 7 year old who had Celiac. The mother said she had to choose between feeding her whole family or just feeding her sick daughter the very expensive gluten free food she could find. That distraught mother said, referring to her Celiac daughter, “She’s just going to have to live with diarrhea.”
“There is a great need to develop a systematic approach to establishing Gluten Free Food Banks across the nation.” says Valdez. She is making that happen in Loveland, Colorado, where there was a dedication and ribbon cutting for the new gluten free section of the existing House of Neighborly Service Food Bank (HNS) on Tuesday, December 15, 2009. This location will serve as the test site for the new program Valdez is designing to be implemented in communities across the country. What a wonderful thing for the 1 in 133 of us who can not eat gluten!
I was also happy to read that Pamela’s Products, a dedicated gluten-free company, is a supporter of this effort, and is donating their Baking & Pancake Mix and their cookies to HNS. I discovered Pamela’s Baking and Pancake Mix early on in my gluten free life–it is now one of the staples of life in the Fab household.
While the costs of gluten free products has come down, and there is a much wider selection of them, they are still more expensive than regular normal foods. For example, you can pick up a loaf of regular white wheat bread for under $2.00 at any grocery store, and for even less at a discount bread outlet. The last gluten free bread I bought cost me about $6.50 for a 12 ounce loaf.
Fabgrandpa and I can afford it, but with so many people losing their jobs, many people who must eat a gluten free diet are finding their budgets stretched to the limits, and facing the choice of whether to eat foods that are toxic to them. Ever since I started eating gluten free, whenever I donate items to a food drive, I always donate gluten free–pasta, bread mix, baking mix, cookies, cereal. Because, what is the point of giving something I wouldn’t eat myself?
This year, when you are making your donations to food banks, please keep those who must eat a special diet in mind. Things like Rice Chex, Corn Chex, Gluten Free Rice Krispies, Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Baking and Biscuit Mix, and other gluten free items could help someone who has to eat gluten free have a better week. Read labels, and be thoughtful in your selections. Thank you.