Let me share a memory from many years ago and a reason I started this #gfreewifeyfoodbank initiative…
A cold, wet rainy November day. Take home income this month totals $890. This is above the average monthly income of $816.30. The rent is $750 before utilities. Last month rent was paid late because money was shuffled around to pay another bill. The landlord is used to this after 3 years of always paying rent but never on time.
This month requires the leftover money to pay the phone bill, because last month hydro won priority. The phone is needed to pick up extra shifts when work inevitably calls. Struggling to get ahead. Working 40+ hours at a full-time job (that you just feel lucky enough to have) is not enough so you get a part-time job. Best choice for second job is a food place because they offer a free meal with each shift worked.
What’s burning in the back of your mind constantly that you repressed into the darkest depths: is your debt and lack of responsibility with money and the knowledge that every dollar you earn at the part-time job will end up be owed at tax time, because that extra income will bump you into the next tax bracket… possibly, probably. But hey! You will worry about that next year at tax time… maybe.
Finally, you break! You need help,
however you do not qualify for financial assistance because of your income. Someone gives you a number of a place where you can get some food (because they are worried about you). After a couple days you find the number, call it, and they provide you with a month* worth of food (*generally this is a 3- 5 day supply from my experience).
You mention gluten-free but this is charity, so you can’t be picky and you take what you are given. A pack of macaroni (contains gluten), a couple cans of soup (contains gluten), a bag of pasta (contains gluten), a can of tomato sauce (safe for your consumption), 2 cans of beans (safe for your consumption).
You humbly and gratefully accept the donations. Like everyone says “it’s not like you will die if you eat a little gluten, but you will if you don’t eat at all.” And at that moment you are #glutened by circumstance, society, and charity; surrendering all regard for your health and well being.
You know the people who say “it’s not like you’ll die” are not correct, just misinformed. They think celiac is not as bad as a common food allergy, and what they don’t know is that
CELIAC IS NOT AN ALLERGY!
You will not go into anaphylactic shock, which leads people to minimize the condition. However long term damage is done as the villi in the stomach lining are damaged. Some people expe4rience no visible symptoms yet severe damage is being done inside.
Celiac is an autoimmune problem, which causes up to 300 known symptoms.
Your body can also start to mimic other diseases, which are caused by malnutrition due to the severely damaged villi in your intestines not absorbing nutrients all from even the smallest exposure to gluten.
For information on Celiac Disease, you can contact the Canadian Celiac Association.
5025 Orbitor Drive,
Building 1 — Suite 400,
Mississauga, ON L4W 4Y5 Canada
Charitable Registration# 10684 4244 RR0001
*Yes this is a personal experience and there are a lot of elements to this story that have been left out. The point of my story is to address and illustrate the lack of knowledge about and availability of gluten-free foods to those in desperate need while raising awareness to the many complex stories and complications that can arise from ignoring this problem. There are endless many stories, all different, of how and why someone would need a food banks support. The good news is now I’m in a position where I can help fight this problem, and I invite all of my readers to join me! *Hunger is close to home*
I know what it’s like to say “EFFF IT”
just eat gluten because there are no options. To hear the voice in your head saying “but did you die?!” To submit to the societal pressures and stigmas of “Caaaaalm down, celiac is not even real, you’ll just get an upset tummy”.
I can’t sit back and watch another person risk their long-term health in order to feed their hunger when in a temporary time of need and not do anything because we have all have been in a time of need. Maybe we did not reach out to the food bank; maybe instead we reached out to a parent, friend, grandparent, neighbor, or coworker. I want to ensure that people are brave enough to ask for help and have access to healthy options and resource, so I started GFREEWIFEYFOODBANK on Gofund me because at this point it is the most secure way I know of collecting and recording donations.
I have been in contact with Foodbanks Canada discussing the prevalence of Celiac Disease, and the need for gluten-free food. They were ecstatic to hear from me and begin a partnership. I am eager to connect with many organizations within our community seeking support with gluten-free clients and community needs. Foodbanks Canada directed me to connect with the Daily Bread Food Bank for my area, where a portion of the current sum will be donated after we partner to find where it is most needed within the organization.
DAILY BREAD is a registered charity, Fighting hunger in our communities. They provide food and support to over 200 food programs across Toronto and work towards long-term solutions to end hunger. Daily Bread reports total client visits in Toronto alone for 2017 were 990,970. You can contribute HERE.
Call Daily bread at 416-203-0050
191 New Toronto Street
Toronto, ON M8V 2E7
Charitable Registration# 11888 1549 RR0001
Another Organization that has connected with me is The Stop Foodbank. I am so excited to build a relationship with this amazing community organization. Watch for more news to come on how we are partnering.
The Stop provides a 3 day supply of food once per month to individuals and families in need for their section of the city.
Charitable Registration: 119-192-763-RR0001
Contact the stop :416-652-7867 ext. 226 Hours: 1884 Davenport Road; Mondays, Thursdays, Fridays; 11AM to 3PM.
I will keep this fund going and hope to be a community partner and liaison for any individual or organization that needs support with access to safe food for people on restricted diets
Specifically gluten-free, but certainly not limited to. I believe hunger is a problem close to home and as an active member of the nations rapidly growing gluten-free community estimated at 1% of the population ( I FINALLY MADE IT TO THE 1%), I believe in supporting food banks across Canada who feed 850’000 people each and every month.
Please feel free to contact me for a partnership, or even guidance and support. If you have a collection of donations of non- perishable gluten-free items I can and would love to arrange a pickup.
How do you know if an item is gluten-free?
In Canada, if a label declares contains wheat or gluten this item is unsafe. We have several recognized gluten-free certification logos to look for my most trusted is the Canadian Celiac Association. (there have been issues with companies labeling glutenfree, but not following the protocol and truly providing a safe product, so this is a stamp I trust)
SOME words for hidden GLUTEN that would mean an item is not safe are;
wheat, barley, rye, bulgur, couscous, durum, einkorn, emmer, farro, kumat, malt, malt extract, flavoring, malt syrup, malt vinegar, semolina, spelt, triticale, wheat bran, wheat germ, wheat starch. *there are more hidden terms and always call a company to clarify they often change suppliers which can change the guarantee of gluten-free read a label EVERY TIME.
What are some gluten-free item needed today?
Rice, gf pasta, gf soups and broths, beans and vegetables, gf cereals, gf crackers, gf flour blends for making breads and pancakes and cakes and muffins.
*I am not a doctor, financial advisor, this is not a registered charity or non-profit at this time. I am not sponsored by Canadian Celiac Association or Daily Bread Foodbank or any other organization mentioned. If you have any questions concerns or tips or simply to share your hunger story please contact me. Be sure to sign up for my mailing list to stay updated on all developments and community partnerships.