OCTOBER 3, 2012

Foothills Food Bank partners for gluten-free

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Nina Spitzer, Pam DiPietro and gluten-free products at the Foothills Food Bank

The Foothills Food Bank and the Greater Phoenix Chapter of the Celiac Disease Foundation have partnered to offer gluten-free food options to those with a medical need. Recently, Foothills Food Bank Executive Director Pam DiPietro and CDF: Greater Phoenix Chapter president Nina Spitzer met to see how they could take this partnership to the next level. For the past year, the support group has been collecting gluten-free donations at monthly meetings, and Spitzer delivers these food items to the food bank where they are stocked on a designated "gluten-free" shelf.

Spitzer explains the greatest need for gluten-free food is by individuals diagnosed with celiac disease. With this condition, the ingestion of the gluten protein found in wheat, rye and barley triggers an autoimmune response that attacks villi in the small intestine. Over time, the villi become damaged to the point where they no longer absorb nutrients the body requires to maintain good health. This genetic autoimmune condition can be life threatening. There is no cure, surgery or medication for this condition. The only treatment is life-long 100 percent compliance to a gluten-free diet. Doctors are finding other gastrointestinal conditions, autism and certain neuropathies can benefit from a gluten-free diet, as well.

DiPietro and Spitzer emphasize the food bank's assistance with gluten-free food is specifically for those with a medical need. Partnership between the two groups will not only make costly gluten-free food available to the food bank community, but will now also make information about celiac disease support and awareness available. On the horizon for Foothills Food Bank is a new and larger location with an expanded gluten-free area.

CDF: Greater Phoenix Chapter has met the first Wednesday of each month for the past twelve years. They also sponsor the Phoenix Gluten-Free Expo now going into its fifth year.

Foothills Food Bank: http://www.foothillsfoodbank.com/

CDF: Greater Phoenix Chapter: http://www.phoenixceliac.org/