We are excited to report that S.A.F.E. kept busy during 2016! We took substantive action to achieve our mission by:
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 Michael Bianca
Please also connect with us on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn @safefoodpantry to keep up to date with news from the S.A.F.E Food Pantry and results from our 2016 #GivingTuesday campaign.
Michael Bianca is the #GivingTuesday Chairperson and serves as a Board Director for the S.A.F.E. Food Pantry.
Due to the generosity of our amazing donors, we were able to collect over 135 pounds of gluten free and allergy friendly food at the Giant Food in Clarksville on Saturday, October 29. The food will be split between our partners, the Howard County Food Bank and Bridgeway Community Cupboard as we work with these two organizations to provide safe food in the community.
It’s not too late to donate gluten free and allergy friendly food! 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.
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 Holiday Sides
• 3 Giant Canned Vegetables
• Giant Applesauce
• Schar Gluten Free Rolls
$20 Gluten Free & Allergy Friendly Holiday 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.
Thank you for your continued support! We look forward to announcing our Winter Food Drive date soon.
On Sunday, October 9, the S.A.F.E. Food Pantry was at the Baltimore Zoo for the Baltimore FARE Walk for Food Allergy. Thank you for giving us the opportunity to share information about our organization and our upcoming events!
We still have some other events coming up this month. We hope you can join us!
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.
We often think that disasters happen in other places, but we have recently learned that is just not true. The devastation in our very own community has been beyond comprehension. The lives of so many people changed forever on that July 30, 2016 evening in Ellicott City.
As with any nonprofit organization, we need you in order to serve our community. If you would like to help us with our mission to provide gluten free and allergy friendly food to those in need, you can, in no particular order:
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.
by June Ramey
My journey into the world of food allergies began 9 years ago when I got a desperate phone call from my daughter, asking me to move in with her, my 6-year-old grandson, and her new husband, Bob. Within six months of their marriage, he had become increasingly ill with numerous ailments never fully diagnosed. She dearly needed another pair of hands with a driver's license.
As we researched Bob's bewildering symptoms to find ways to give him a better quality of life, we began with gradual changes. Good quality vitamins and probiotics were our first line of defense, and we then moved on to eliminate soy and gluten from our diet. We determined early on that any changes we made, would be for the whole family, as we were all in this together.
Bob's health improved a bit, and my daughter, Kris, noticed she began feeling better also. We continued to eliminate other common allergens, such as artificial sugars, ginger, peanuts, and tree nuts, and saw added success. However, it was too little too late, and shortly after that, Bob's health declined and he died.
Although Kris wasn't officially diagnosed until a couple years later, we knew she had Celiac Disease, IBS, and candida, a yeast overgrowth in her body. We continued on the diet and just when we thought we had Kris back on track and healing, her health took another turn. Through testing, we discovered we had to eliminate tomatoes, anything fermented, fruit, condiments, dairy, natural sugars, and yeast.
At this point, there were no packaged foods we could open for a quick meal, and we quickly learned the joys of cooking from scratch with fresh ingredients and herbs. With the elimination of each new allergen, all our favorite recipes had to be reworked with substitute ingredients. Especially in baked goods, when you have to replace more than a couple key ingredients, nothing turns out the way you expect it to. We fed the garbage disposal a lot, and joyfully celebrated the successes. We documented all the recipes that worked, and went on to design new dishes to give us a greater variety of foods.
Realizing there had to be a lot of other people who were struggling with multiple food allergies, we contacted a publisher. At the end of four years, we had published a 400-page cookbook called Celiac Creations For Multiple Food Allergies: How To Survive When Your Food Is Killing You.
As Kris' list of allergies increased, we noticed a correlating increase in the cost of our grocery bill. We considered ourselves blessed to be able to afford the great food, but wondered how people who are less fortunate, manage to feed themselves and their families. When I was asked to join the Board of Directors for S.A.F.E. Food Pantry, I saw an opportunity to make a real difference in a greatly underserved community, by helping to establish a food pantry that specifically addresses the dual problem of food allergies and food insecurity.
Food allergies are on the rise, and due to the increased cost of allergy-friendly foods, there will be more requests for safe foods from food pantries all over the U.S. We are establishing partnerships, raising awareness of this increased need on our local level, and invite interested people from all walks of life to join with us in whatever way they can to promote this important work.
June Ramey serves as the Board Secretary for the S.A.F.E. Food Pantry. She and her daughter, Kris Dzagan, co-authors of Celiac Creations for Multiple Food Allergies: How To Survive When Your Food Is Killing You will be speaking at this Sunday's Food for Thought session. Click here for more information or to RSVP for our free educational session.
The S.A.F.E. Food Pantry is an all-volunteer, 501(c)(3) organization based in Howard County, Maryland.