Record breaking wildfires followed by devastating mudslides caused tremendous loss and sorrow for thousands of people in Southern California this past fall and winter. As you well know, Northern California and other areas of the United States have also been particularly hard hit by natural disasters this past year; the Gluten-Free Disaster Relief Task Force was founded in the fall of 2017 in response. For everyone affected, the impact is one that remains long after the initial tragedy has passed. I think first of those who struggle during these times with the added challenge of finding gluten-free food. Fortunately, there is always something we can do to show we care.
I met the phenomenal, experienced staff of the Unity Shoppe, the lead case management site for the Montecito/Ventura/Santa Barbara disaster recovery when I visited Santa Barbara this Jan/Feb* and volunteered in their kitchen preparing produce for their welcoming grocery area. Currently, 20 staff and 1400 volunteers are trying to serve 18,000 people. Unity directors tell me that they are always in need of gluten-free products and that this recent double disaster has amplified that need and the number of gluten-free visitors.
Gluten-free clients often don’t come to standard food banks or resource centers expecting to find gluten-free products. The Unity Shoppe has a powerful network of 300 affiliated partners in the community and can spread the word that more gluten-free products will be available with the help of donations.
You can earmark a financial donation directly to the Unity Shoppe’s Gluten-Free Fund. The money will be designated specifically for gluten-free shelf staple products that are in great need by gluten-free consumers in this expected 2-5 year long-term recovery effort.
To Donate: http://www.unityshoppe.org/ways-to-give/
Click on the Disaster Support Fund donate button
IMPORTANT! Be sure to write in the section “Add special instructions to the seller” that you want the money to be used for the purchase of gluten-free supplies.
Questions? Please contact Nicola Harrington of The Gluten-Free Food Bank at the National Celiac Association: Phone: 1-888-4-CELIAC
If you know of Los Angeles–based food banks or resource centers that accept financial donations specifically for gluten-free food, please email Nicola.
Thank you for helping these communities as they heal!
*I grew up in the rain/ mudslide area and going home to visit and lend a small hand was a powerful experience for me.