Thursday, June 10, 2010

Speaker Hopes More Gluten-Free Food Is Distributed From Food Banks

Dee Valdez, an advocate and public relations worker for Gluten-Free products is coming to Pittsburgh next week to speak at a workshop. The workshop is aimed at food providers so they can learn about the impacts foods with gluten can have on people with celiac disease.

Celiac disease is an inherited, autoimmune disease in which the lining of the small intestine is damaged from eating gluten and proteins found in wheat, barley, rye, and possibly oats.

According to The National Institutes of Health about 1 in 133 Americans have the disease. Many people without the disease follow a gluten-free diet.

Valdez started the nation's first gluten-free pantry last year in Colorado. She says she wants to start similar pantries around the country.

Iris Valenti, a spokesperson at The Greater Pittsburgh Food Bank, says while they would separate gluten-free items from other items for agencies that request them, the food bank has no plans to start a gluten-free pantry. More than 100,000 people get assistance from the food bank every month.

The meeting will be at Allegheny General Hospital's Magovern Auditorium Monday 8 a.m. till 12 p.m. It is free and open to the public.

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