I’m sitting here in the middle of Queens, NY with power, and emergency supplies sitting around that need to be put away. We just took the tape off of our windows. And if you looked out my windows right now, it’s almost hard to believe that not far away Superstorm Sandy caused so much damage and changed so many lives. The frequent emergency vehicle sirens in the background keep things in perspective.
ARE YOU PREPARED?
I’m so glad I got all of my emergency supplies together for Hurricane Irene last year! Please, if you haven’t put your emergency supplies together yet, please do it NOW! Click here if you need help putting it all together.
I can’t even begin to tell you what an emotional experience this has been. Not only was it terrifying to feel the house shake with every gust, but the warnings alone were enough to spike your adrenaline. And afterwards, watching the news and seeing all of the crazy images of subways full of water, lower Manhattan blacked out, people being rescued out of zones that weren’t evacuated, complete neighborhoods razed by fire, and people losing their lives, you can’t help but re-think your life and what’s really important.
I couldn’t help but wonder how people were going to eat with special diet restrictions. People who lost everything along with people that weren’t going to have power for many days.
It seemed clear to me that the best way for me to help right now would be to start a food drive.
I discovered Feeding America, the non-profit organization that is an umbrella organization for many of the nation’s food banks. You may be familiar with one of their member banks named City Harvest, a well known food bank with swanky affairs here in NYC. Feeding America is well respected and has received top honors as a charity. I thought it was extra nice that they provide personal care items too!
HOW TO HELP
So, I thought it would be best to let the professionals take care of where the food should go. So, here it is the Celiac Chick’s Superstorm Sandy Relief Fund virtual food drive. I’ve seeded the drive with $100. Each dollar donated equals 8 meals. So, that’s 800 meals. All donations are tax deductible.
Of course, all of us in the gluten-free community want to make sure there is gluten-free food available at these banks for our friends in need. I’m sure there are naturally gluten-free foods available, but is it organized and is there a variety of gluten-free food?
So, this is where we can all roll our sleeves up a bit and get involved in the action.
Here’s a great article from Living Without with tips on how to help your local food bank understand the need for gluten-free food. Regardless of where you live, your local food bank probably needs help. If all of us went to the one nearest to where we live and helped out, then we could ensure that all food banks understand the needs of gluten-free people and will have gluten-free food easily available.
Let’s start a food bank revolution!
I’ve talked to Dee Valdez at length on the phone about her efforts in helping her local food bank to be the first one in America with clearly organized gluten-free foods. It can be done!
So, click here to find the link that leads to your local food bank. And I’d love to hear back from you about how things work out. Maybe discuss this at your next local celiac disease Meetup group or celiac disease support group meeting. Together we can be very powerful!
UPDATE 11/2: Erin over at Gluten-Free Fun has a list of three food banks (and drop off centers) that are now accepting gluten-free food donations. I’m sure any food bank will take them, but for now and in our area, these have actual contact people that you can work with directly and find out the requirements needed.
You can also purchase 1 2 3 Gluten-Free Mixes and donations will be made from sales. See details here.
Another way we can ensure that food banks nationwide have gluten-free foods is by giving gluten-free food directly to the food banks. Individuals can organize a food drive in your local area and then deliver it to the food bank or a gluten-free business can contact the local food banks or Feeding America headquarters and find out how they can donate their products. I’m pretty sure there are tax breaks for businesses that want to partner with them in this way.
I’m envisioning gluten-free care packages put together by gluten-free companies. Wouldn’t that be swell?!
SPECIAL DIET BAG TAGS & SIGNS FOR FOOD BANK DONATIONS
If you do drop off gluten-free food, or other special diet foods to your local food bank, please label it with one of these helpful bag tags. You can also print out a sign for the food bank to use on their shelf or to post for people to see that they do have gluten-free and allergy-friendly food available.
It’s going to take awhile for many people to recover from this mess, but we can at least comfort people a bit with some food.
Thank you in advance for your help!