Gluten Free Food Assistance in the United States

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It’s no secret that gluten free food costs more than wheat based products. For some, this means making difficult choices when living on a small budget. Thankfully there are organizations in the United States which offer gluten free food assistance through care packages and pantries.

Gluten Free Food Assistance Article Header

Is Gluten Free Food More Expensive Than Wheat Based Products?

While our own experiences would tell us “yes,” medical professionals studied this question. In the February 2019 edition of Nutrients*, Anne Lee, R.D. and fellow doctors  studied the Persistent Economic Burden of the Gluten Free Diet. Their study found that “the overall cost of GF products was 183% more expensive than their wheat-based counterparts.” 

Cost Comparison Chart - Gluten Free VS Regular
Cost of gluten free food vs regular food. Image from Nutrients Journal, 2019, edition 11(2):399- Study by Anne Lee, et al.

Let’s take flour for example. I use King Arthur Measure for Measure in most of my baking products. A 2 lb bag of King Arthur (wheat based) all purpose flour is $1.89 at my local Meijer. A 3 lb bag of King Arthur’s Gluten Free Measure for Measure is $11.99. That’s a cost comparison of $0.95/ lb to $3.99/lb That’s 4 times the cost! 

Gluten Free Food Insecurity Impacts Diet Adherence

Researchers in the Nutrition journal expressed that these higher prices may lead to non-adherence to the gluten free diet. Cost is not the only issue. “More products were available online and in the higher-end grocery stores, but these were also more expensive than the traditional grocery store.” Not only can people not afford gluten free groceries, they’re not available near them, either.  

Organizations Offering Gluten Free Food Assistance

Thanfully, there are some non-profits who are stepping up to address this issue. Some organizations offer gluten free food assistance only locally. Others ship food boxes across the United States. Please use these resources if you are in need of help. Conversely, if you are able to help, these non-profits would welcome your donations to further their cause.

National Celiac Association Feeding Gluten Free Objectives

Feeding Gluten Free

The National Celiac Association spearheads the Feeding Gluten Free initiative. They partner with large gluten free manufacturers to stock food pantries across the United States. Click here to donate to their cause. 

 

GIG Cares Addresses Gluten Free Food Insecurity

GIG Cares

The Gluten Intolerance Group started their gluten free food assistance outreach, GIG Cares, in 2019. This initiaive will “provide monthly boxes of food to those in need.” Boxes include products that are certified thru their GFCO certification program. Use their PDF form to apply for a box. Support their work with a tax deductible donation

Food Equality Initiative Offer Food Allergy and Gluten Free Food Assistance

Food Equality Initiative

Food Equality Initiative, based in Kansas City, started as a food bank for those with Celiac Disease and food allergies. For those in the Kansas City area looking for gluten free food assitance from FEI, a referral from a doctor is needed. Please consider a donation to support their efforts. You can also shop their online store for food allergy and Celiac Disease related apparel and accessories. Enjoy their Free From Magazine.

Securing Safe Food
Founded in March 2020, Securing Safe Food (SSF) in Connecticut is a registered nonprofit working to fight food insecurity among food-allergic individuals. They locate nutritional assistance programs in need of allergen-free stock, and supply their partner food pantries with consistent, allergen-free options. In addition, they educate food manufacturers, medical practices, and the general public on the topic of food allergies and food insecurity.

Some Specific Individual Food Pantries Worth Noting

Celiac & Allergy Friendly Food Initiative

The Celiac and Allergy Friendly Food Initiative (CAFFI) is an Ohio nonprofit organization, established by two Stow residents, Amy Adams and Lisa Herman. The Celiac and Allergy Friendly Food Initiative works in partnership with Portage County Family and Community Services in order to have space to store food and to distribute food through Summit and Portage County Food Pantries. Connect with them at this link

S.A.F.E. Food Pantry

S.A.F.E Food Pantry is part of the Howard County Food Bank in Columbia, Maryland. Those needing gluten free food assistance are asked to print, fill out and mail this form. For those wanting to support their effors, donate here

FOODiversity

FOODiversity   is working to address food insecurity in the Mooresville, NC area. They offer weekend backpacks of gluten free and food allergy free foods. Learn more about them on their Facebook page, and in this article on the FEI website. Interested in helping their cause? Donate here

Garden of Health Food Bank

Garden of Health Food Bank  is located in Pennsylvania. “Founded in 2015, they source fresh produce and foods free of the top eight allergens and distribute to food pantries, low-income senior housing and community groups in Montgomery and Bucks Counties in Pennsylvania. Visit their website to find pantries offering gluten free foods. Wan to help? Consider making a donation

The Rachel Way

The Rachel Way, located in Plymouth Meeting, Pennsylvania offers Gluten AND Dairy Free foods for those needing food assistance. They ask those needing help to submit this application.  Click here to donate to their efforts. 

What about soup kitchens? Learn more tips on navigating food banks and soup kitchens from FARE.

Have you benefited from one of these organizations? What other ways can we help those living with gluten free food insecurity? Share in the comment below. 

13 Comments

  1. recently diagnosed with celiac desease and a detached stomach lining…inital stage one but ordered more blood work because doctor thinks it is higher…next doc apt in 3 weeks. celiac glutten free food is very expensnive…one loaf of bread over $5.00…my food stamps are only $85.00 a m onth. are there any programs i can get on for glutten free food>

  2. I need glutenfree help for two girlsgetting ged and college i live in jacksonvilleFlorida where can i go

  3. Hello my niece is 15 has Celiac and my sister has a hard time being able to buy the food as well as feed her other three children. They already live in poverty even though she works it seems the government is not willing to help her get out of it. Only drowning her and taking more money. So we live in New Albany Indiana I was wondering if there is any places like the ones above that I could reach out to.

  4. I have tried to contact the Rachael Way from my library because I would have had to print them off. However, when you click any of the links for her organization it goes to some sort of gambling site? I desperatly needed to contact them. I have approximately $200 per month to spend for groceries. We all know that that doesn’t gor far when you need a bag of flour and it is $13. I often go for days with nothing to eat because even my food pantry never has GF help. Even though I have told them I can’t use flour, pancake mix, pasta, cereal and Chef Boy R Dee. Guess what I take home, EVERY TIME.
    Would anyone know of a food pantry her in the UPPER PENINNSULA of Michigan? An organization that can help?

    1. Unfortunately, I do not have any information on food pantries in the Upper Peninsula. I’m sorry. Rachel Way is in Pennsylvania. I would recommend contacting the GIG Cares, although please be advised that currently have a waiting list.

  5. Are there any places in northeastern Pennsylvania, luzerne county that offer assistance for people with celiacs disease.

  6. How do you apply for this because I have celiac disease and I’m not so good at shopping for gluten free food, everything is too expensive. I can’t even get myself snacks with the prices the way they are.

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