Foods that are gluten free and allergy friendly are 2-4 times more expensive than the typical grocery items and almost impossible to find in local food pantries. No one knows this better than Claire* who has celiac disease and other food intolerances. She receives a modest $15 per month in FSP (Food Supplement Program) benefits to aid her in purchasing gluten free and allergy friendly food. Step into Claire’s shoes and experience what it is like to choose between hunger and eating something that will make her ill.
Claire is now able to find gluten-free food at the Howard County Food Bank during her monthly visits thanks to generous donors like you. “It used to be next to impossible to find safe food at the Food Bank. I would leave there with a small bag of items and go home to bare cupboards, while other people left with grocery carts full of food. Then, I would have to wait another month to return to see if there was anything I could eat. I am grateful for S.A.F.E. Food Pantry since I can now find food that works for me. S.A.F.E. is a real blessing for me.”
Financial contributions help people like Claire obtain the gluten free and allergy friendly food that they need to thrive. Help us assist more clients with gluten free and allergy friendly food with a donation today.
* Client name changed to protect privacy
by Lily Lev
I had my bat mitzvah earlier this year, and for my project, I wanted to do something to help people who can’t eat gluten because I was diagnosed with celiac disease when I was 2. I decided to help S.A.F.E. because it is the only gluten free food pantry in Maryland. I’m fortunate enough to have gluten free food whenever I need, but for people who rely on food pantries and are gluten free, they have limited options. To help, I organized a neighborhood food drive where I left bags at houses and returned the following week to collect donations. The project was super easy and fun at the same time. I was surprised to see how many people donated food, and in total I collected 146 lbs of gluten free food.
Please see our Food Drive page or email us you are interested in more information. We look forward to working with you!
In honor of Celiac Awareness Month, the S.A.F.E. Food Pantry is hosting a gluten free and allergy friendly food drive at the Giant Food, 6050 Daybreak Circle, Clarksville, MD on Saturday, May 6 from 10AM-1PM. We are accepting nonperishable food donations for our dedicated shelf space at the Howard County Food Bank. We also appreciate monetary donations as they provide us with funding to purchase necessary items.
Another option for donating food is through our basket program where we do the shopping for you. Help families in need who struggle with food allergies, celiac disease, and similar health issues eat safely by purchasing gluten free and allergy friendly food baskets:
$10 Gluten Free Pasta Meal
• Nature’s Promise Gluten Free Pasta
• Schar Gluten Free Rolls
• Francesco Rinaldi’s Zesty Tomato Sauce
$10 Gluten Free & Allergy Friendly Sides
• 3 Giant Canned Vegetables
• Giant Applesauce
• Schar Gluten Free Rolls
$20 Gluten Free & Allergy Friendly Sides Deluxe
• 6 Giant Canned Vegetables
• Giant Brown Rice
• Giant Dried Beans
• Giant Applesauce
• Bob’s Red Mill Cornbread Mix
• Giant Coconut Oil
• Nature’s Promise Dairy Free Milk
Please indicate in the comments which basket(s) you would like to donate.
Keep in mind that One Dish Cuisine, located in Ellicott City, is a permanent food collection point during their business hours. Look for the sealed, plastic tote in the front of the café.
Our clients and we appreciate your generosity!
by Libby McClayton
According to FARE, food allergies affect 1 out of every 13 children, or approximately two students per classroom. This staggering statistic, coupled with my dedication to improving the health and well-being of children and communities as a whole, sparked my interest in S.A.F.E. Food Pantry. I was drawn to S.A.F.E. Food Pantry in particular because S.A.F.E. is the only organization in the region (and one of the only organizations in the country) whose mission is to provide gluten free and allergy friendly foods to those in need.
In my past experience working in low income communities, I worked with a sizeable number of students with food allergies. Although the schools and non-profits I worked for did their best to provide nutritious allergy friendly meals for the students during their programs, there was no guarantee that after their programs ends that these students had nutritious, safe, meals at their homes. Food insecurity in children is associated with poor quality of life, which could inhibit children from fully participating in school and social activities. I am proud to serve on the board of S.A.F.E. Food Pantry where we are taking strides to help children and families in need so they live up to their full potential.
Libby McClayton serves as the Board Treasurer for the S.A.F.E. Food Pantry.
by Tiffany and Allan Holtzman
We started the SNAP Challenge with optimism that we could stretch our $44 ($22 for each of us) to supply us with five days worth of food. Along the way, we learned that SNAP benefits do not go far to assist people with special dietary conditions as we tackled a diet free from gluten and the top allergens of wheat, dairy, eggs, soy, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, and shellfish.
Prior to the challenge we ventured to Trader Joe’s and Wegmans and bought the following items to total $33.96:
Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil - 5.49
Organic Sweet Peas, Frozen - 1.99
Organic Strawberries, Frozen - 2.69
3 Bananas - 0.57
Organic Buckwheat Groats - 4.49
Organic Garbanzo Beans - 2.99
Organic French Green Lentils - 2.99
Organic Basmati Rice - 4.59
Organic Tomato Paste, Canned - 0.89
Jones Turkey Links Frozen - 2.59
Organic Carrots 5# - 3.99
Lemon - 0.69
SUBTOTAL - 33.96
We wanted to keep some money in the budget for buying meat later in the week, if necessary. By Tuesday evening, we dipped into our remaining budget, spending $6.03 for some chicken pieces that were on sale, leaving us with $4.01 remaining.
Here is what we learned from our experiences, in no particular order:
This SNAP Challenge was definitely an eye-opening experience for us. We are extremely grateful to be able to afford the gluten free and allergy friendly food that we need and look forward to assisting those who cannot afford safe food through the S.A.F.E. Food Pantry.
Tiffany Holtzman is the Founder and Board President of the S.A.F.E. Food Pantry. Her husband, Allan, is a dedicated supporter and volunteer for the organization.
Living on SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) benefits, called the Food Supplement Program (FSP) in Maryland, can be a struggle for many families. Starting on Monday, September 12 through Friday, September 16, the S.A.F.E. Food Pantry is working in cooperation with Maryland Hunger Solutions to participate in the SNAP Challenge.
Since the S.A.F.E. Food Pantry has a mission to provide gluten free and allergy friendly food to those in need, we will be doing the SNAP Challenge with special dietary conditions in mind. We encourage you to join us as a participant in the SNAP Challenge if you have special dietary needs including food allergies, celiac disease, gluten sensitivity, to name a few.
For more information on this special gluten free and allergy friendly SNAP Challenge, please click here for more information and registration. On this page you will also find a food log to help you keep track of your food for the five-day challenge.
We would love to hear from you throughout the week, so please use hashtag #SNAPSAFE as you connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and email.
by Michael Bianca
Ever since I can remember I have had to deal with the fact I have a fairly severe peanut allergy. Luckily, I was able to find out very early on and have grown up my entire life avoiding a food that is a staple for most children. As far back as I can remember I have been reading every single ingredient list for a food I was about to eat and if I wasn’t sure what was in something, not eating it.
The most difficult part for me was going out to eat. I was embarrassed to ask the waiter if a certain food had nuts in it so I would either stick to something I knew, or not eat at all. While I have been incredibly diligent about making sure I knew what was in something before I ate it, I’ve had my fair share of close calls. Most of the time it was from ordering something and realizing once it came that it included some sort of nut and not being able to eat it. There is nothing worse than being hungry, waiting for your food to come and then once it is served not being able to eat it!
Another difficult thing to learn to deal with was going to baseball games. I am a huge baseball fan and as anyone who has gone to a game before knows, baseball and peanuts are synonymous. It was tough for me to go to a game and not enjoy myself because someone around me was eating peanuts. Most of the time I could move to another seat, but there have been times where I could feel a reaction coming on and I had to leave.
With all that said I have been incredibly lucky for someone who has a food allergy. My parents had the resources to take me to an allergist and were able to buy food that did not contain anything I was allergic to. Some people in my situation aren’t that lucky and don’t have those options. That is why joining S.A.F.E Food Pantry was an easy decision for me. I couldn’t imagine being hungry and not being able to eat what food was available because I was allergic to it. Through my involvement with S.A.F.E my goal is to help build a place that individuals and families can go and get access to safe food that they may not be able to afford.
The good news is awareness is at an all-time high. When I was in elementary and middle school there were no precautions implemented in schools and restaurants like there are now. While this is a huge step, there is still a lot of work to be done for those who are food insecure with allergies. My hope is through S.A.F.E we can take that next step forward in making sure everyone has access to safe food.
Michael Bianca serves as a Board Director for the S.A.F.E. Food Pantry.
The S.A.F.E. Food Pantry is an all-volunteer, 501(c)(3) organization based in Howard County, Maryland.