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Format: 04/18/2014
Format: 04/18/2014

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AGH Center for Digestive Health Leads Drive for Gluten-Free Products at Local Food Banks

Thursday, January 13th, 2011

Thanks to the leadership efforts of the Allegheny General Hospital Center of Digestive Health Celiac Clinic, Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank will participate in a project on Saturday, Jan. 29, to make gluten-free food available to low-income people served by the Food Bank’s food pantry network.

People suffering from the condition called Celiac Disease damage their small intestines when they eat the protein called gluten. A lifelong gluten-free diet is the only treatment for the disease.

The Pittsburgh Celiac Workshop, sponsored by local food retailer Giant Eagle will take place on Saturday, January 29th at the Doubletree Hotel in Monroeville from 9 am – 3 pm. Vendors of gluten-free foods will be there with samples; Paul Lebovitz, MD, Division Director of Gastroenterology at Allegheny General Hospital, and director of the celiac clinic at the Allegheny Center for Digestive Health will host an open question and answer session about celiac disease (among other speakers); and Allegheny Center for Digestive Health is asking attendees to bring a non-perishable gluten-free item for a food drive.

This food drive kicks off the Celiac Clinic’s gluten-free food pantry project. Recognizing the need for gluten-free food for the low-income population around the Pittsburgh area, this group began to organize a plan to provide these foods to local food pantries, only the second such program in the nation. The plan calls for these specialty items to be made available at four Food Bank network food pantries in the Pittsburgh area: North Hills Community Outreach, East End Cooperative Ministries, West Hills Food Pantry, and Brentwood Presbyterian Church Food Pantry. Volunteers at each of these food pantries are also being educated about the disease and gluten-free food handling by two practitioners from the celiac clinic.

Items for this food drive must contain no wheat, barley or rye. Nonperishable, gluten-free items include snacks (such as Snyders pretzels, Schar foods), some pasta (Heartland, Biaglut), and some baking mixes (Bisquick). Giant Eagle, Whole Foods Trader Joes and Eden’s Market all carry gluten-free products.

Gluten-free food items can also be dropped off at the Allegheny Center for Digestive Health (1307 Federal Street, North Side), or at Eden’s Market (99 Alfred St at Washington Road, Mt Lebanon) during business hours until the end of the month.

Celiac disease affects around 1 in 133 people in the nation. Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank provides food assistance to more than 120,000 people per month. This means that there may be as many as 900 people per month in Allegheny County alone who are receiving food assistance who could be helped by gluten-free food.

For more information, contact Kathy Sepesy, 412-359-8956 or KSEPESY@wpahs.org
 

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