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Friday, November 30, 2012
Photo Friday: Gluten-Free PostSecret
PostSecret is one of my favorite websites. I make sure to read it every Sunday morning when the new secrets are posted. Last week, I saw this one and thought it was sweet. I'm sure we can all relate to this card on some level, especially with Thanksgiving last week and the holidays just ahead.

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Thursday, November 29, 2012
Gluten-Free Internships with the CDF
When I was in college, I had a fun internship at a radio station and another one with an awesome graphic design professor which gave me a lot of great experience. Today when I discovered an internship with the Celiac Disease Foundation, I was almost jealous that I wasn't back in college and living in California. This sounds like a great opportunity, especially for someone that is living with Celiac and interested in exploring the world of non-profit organizations. Below is the full internship description. Please contact the CDF directly if you have any questions about this position.

Celiac Disease Foundation (CDF) Internship

CDF Interns are integral members of the CDF National Office, and quickly become fully immersed in the non-profit celiac and gluten-free world. Interns work closely with directors of Operations, Development, Communications, and Outreach. The internship is a valuable experience for any student wishing to learn more about non-profit organizations, public health, PR and marketing, and disease/cause-related organizations.

Program Benefits:
  • Gain hands-on experience that has a direct impact on the celiac and gluten-sensitive community
  • Attend meetings with CDF Executive Staff and CDF Board of Directors to observe leadership and planning
  • Manage the CDF Young and Gluten-Free™ movement through social media
  • Own at least one individual or group project and present
  • Course credit at your enrolled University, if you so choose
  • Age 18 years or older
  • Full-time (40 hours per week) commitment during the Summer program
  • Part-time (20 hours per week) commitment during Fall and Spring programs
  • Confidentiality agreement
  • Strong written and verbal communication skills
  • Computer literate with PC, Windows, Microsoft Office
Location: Woodland Hills, California
Office hours: Monday-Friday 9:30am-6pm

Dates: (some adjustments may be accommodated for individual schedules)
Spring 2013: January 21 – April 26 (13 weeks) Applications due: January 1, 2013
Summer 2013: June 24 – August 16 (8 weeks) Applications due: June 1, 2013
Fall 2013: September 2 - December 20 (12 weeks) Applications due: August 1, 2013
Click here to access and submit your application

For more information, contact Outreach Coordinator Janelle Smith at or 818-716-1513 ext. 105

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Monday, November 26, 2012
Gluten-Free Emergency Planning
Hurricane Sandy was a few weeks ago, but there are still so many people who are still without power and many who are homeless. The hurricane was a wake-up call to many celiacs wondering if they were prepared for a disaster like this one. The packing of food, medication, and water is essential when preparing for a natural disaster. My colleague Cheryl Harris, MPH, put together a great list of suggestions for preparing your gluten-free "go" kit for a natural disaster. Her list includes gluten-free canned goods, starches, ready-to-go meals and even snacks. It is better to have a safe bag of food prepared and to never use it than to have nothing ready for a time of emergency. Click here to read Cheryl's article. 

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Thursday, November 22, 2012
Happy Thanksgiving from Gluten-Free Fun

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! I have so much to be thankful today and always. It has been a challenging year but I have realized that I have a strong support system that keeps me going. As I sit here watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade, I am reflecting on a few things that I am thankful for today.
  • Family. My mom, sister, nieces, and nephew all mean the world to me. It is their unconditional love, support, phone calls, and hugs that gets me through my toughest days.
  • Friends. My friend group has changed dramatically in the past year anad a half. I realize in my 30s that it isn't the quantity of people on my FB page or in my phone, it is the quality of those who are really there for me. My best friends have been there for me this year in a way that I will forever be thankful for. I don't think they even know how much they mean to me and how their texts and phone calls helped me so much this year. Thank you Laura, Kristen, Doria, Mike, and Jamie for being you! 
  • Health insurance. It's been another rough year of too many doctor's appointments and not too many answers. I honestly cannot imagine what my bills would be without the great coverage I have thanks to my company. I have a rough month of testing ahead of me, but I am working towards a new year's resolution for no doctors in 2013. 
  • Travel. Traveling around the country and the world is a passion of mine. I have always enjoyed traveling and think too many people with Celiac Disease are scared to be so far away from home. I understand that feeling but hope that through my travel stories on my Gluten-Free Globetrotter website will encourage at least one person living a gluten-free life to hop on a plane and explore our amazing world. 
  • Celiac Disease. Celiac Disease has been a part of my life since my diagnosis in 1981. It has shaped so much of who I am that i cannot imagine if I didn't have it. While there have been so many challenges over the years, I am thankful that I got a diagnosis more than three decades ago.
  • Gluten-free food.  The gluten-free food of 2012 is soooooo much better than it has ever been. I see so many people complaining online about crappy gluten-free food, but you don't know crappy until you eat rice cakes as bread every day of your life for the first five years post-diagnosis. Don't believe me, ask my mom! There was nothing to eat in the 1980s. Yes, much of the gluten-free food tasting is trial and error but there are so many great gluten-free foods on the market today and for that I am thankful.
  • Guten-free and Celiac social media/YOU! I am beyond thankful that I can write this blog, engage with my Facebook fans, and Tweet to my followers each and every day. I have met some really amazing people through gluten-free social media. It still amazes me that some of the people I am the closest with and email the most about my health are people online that I have never met. You are all an amazing support system and for that I am thankful. 
I hope you and your families have a wonderful, safe, and loving Thanksgiving day!

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Monday, November 19, 2012
Update on FDA's Gluten-Free Food Labeling Regulations
I received this email last week while I was traveling. This is a great first step to labeling of our gluten-free food. Read on for more information.

Dear Friends, 
Last week, we reached out to you and other stakeholders serving the needs of those with gluten-related disorders asking you to join us in expressing support for the completion of the FDA's gluten-free food labeling regulation.

As noted in the initial letter, the community hoped to gather 25,000 signatures within 30 days on a 'We the People' petition posted to With only days to meet the target, we reached out to you to add close to 6,000 names to the petition. Not only was this goal met; it was exceeded by 2,000 signatures! This was an amazing feat that clearly demonstrated the positive results of a community working together.

The purpose of this petition was to reinforce for administration officials the importance of clear labeling that enforces gluten-free standards. Without question, that goal was accomplished.

So what's next? According to the White House website, administration officials will respond to the petition in a timely manner. It is possible that the recent storm on the East coast and the elections may factor into the timing of this review and response. Hopefully, it will include news announcing completion of the labeling rules. We promise to keep you abreast of any news or new developments. You can also follow along here.

This effort could not have been successful without your participation. Thank you for supporting the needs of the gluten-free community!


American Celiac Disease Alliance

Celiac Disease Foundation

Gluten Intolerance Group

National Foundation for Celiac Awareness

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Thursday, November 8, 2012
Gluten-Free Hurricane Relief Efforts Update
Here is a summary of my posts over the past week. Information was getting a little hard to manage, so hopefully this list helps you.

Gluten-Free Hurricane Relief: How to Help
Original post of where to donate, how to help, where to volunteer, and where to find gluten-free food in the NYC area

Hurricane Help from Gluten-Free Companies
A list of companies that are helping to support the hurricane relief efforts

Gluten-Free Hurricane Relief: Where to donate and find gluten-free food
Long Island
Long Island Cares
Freeport, Long Island Drop-off Center
Island Harvest

New York City/Staten Island
City Harvest
Food Bank of NYC
21st District of Queens, NY
Shop Rite in New Dorp, SI

New Jersey
Community Food Bank of NJ

Three Dogs Bakery

Hurricane Sandy: My Personal Reflections

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Tuesday, November 6, 2012
Gluten-Free Hurricane Relief: How to Help
As I mentioned in yesterday's post, I have been spending all week trying to help out Hurricane Sandy victims as much as I can. I wish I could do more. I've donated money, food, clothing, and tonight I am donating my time collecting donations for residents of the devastated Breezy Point, Queens. Many people are asking me how they can help, so I am putting together this ongoing list. I will add to it as I learn more. Please add your comments below if you have additional information.

(Gluten-Free) Food Donations

My heart goes out to the millions of people who had their lives turned upside down due to this storm, but I cannot help but think about those who need gluten-free food. There are very few food banks in this country that make an effort to carry gluten-free food. I am pretty sure that most food banks in the tri-state area do not have the gluten-free essentials they need, if any gluten-free food at all. Food banks need food and money!

Are you a gluten-free food manufacturer? If so, here are organizations that take bulk food donations. I have contacted many of these organizations directly about specifically giving gluten-free donations, but have not yet heard back from any of them. I am sure they are inundated with calls right now so as soon as I hear back, I will update this page with that information. Please make sure to contact them directly if you have questions. Monetary donations are always accepted as well.

All of these links go directly to the food donation inquiry pages.

Update as of 11/8 at 9:45am EST: CONFIRMED.
They are accepting gluten-free donations! 

The following are now accepting gluten-free donations and will do their best to make sure the proper people receive this gluten-free food. Please click on the name for more information specific to that food bank.

Long Island Cares
City Harvest
Food Bank of NYC
Long Island drop-off in Freeport, NY
Island Harvest
Community Food Bank of New Jersey* revised
District 21st Queens, NY
Three Dogs Bakery (Westchester County)
Shop Rite in New Dorp (Staten Island)

Food banks (pending response)

New York City
Red Cross
AidMatrix, sponsored by FEMA
Feeding America
Masbia (Kosher food donations only!)

Long Island

New Jersey
The Foodbank of Monmouth and Ocean Counties
Food Bank of South Jersey

Other ways to help

Finding Gluten-Free Food in NYC

I've asked the NYC Celiac Meetup group to keep us posted on where to buy gluten-free food in the tri-state area. If you know any place that sell gluten-free food and have reopened especially in lower Manhattan, please add your comments here:

Click here to learn about gluten-free companies that are helping with the hurricane relief effort.

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GF Hurricane Relief: Three Dogs Bakery (Westchester County)
This is my first confirmed Westchester donation location! Thank you to Karen Miller of Three Dogs Bakery for turning her gluten-free bakery into a donation site. Drop off your donations and buy some yummy gluten-free baked goods

Hello All! 
I hope this email finds you well. The bakery has power and is open.
Hurricane Sandy has shaken all of us, for sure. For me, it has certainly put things in perspective. Losing power for a week or more is nothing when others lost their homes. That is why I would like to do what I can to help.  
It has been brought to my attention by Erin Smith of the NYC Celiac Disease and Gluten-Free Meet-up Group that the shelters in Long Island and NJ are in need of gluten-free food. I always have a box here for donations of gluten-free food but we need more than that. The shelters said they want to be sure they have enough to be able to advertise it. Otherwise people will come and it'll be all gone.  
Please come to the bakery and drop off some non-perishable, unopened, gluten-free food. Whether it's something in your house or something you pick up the next time you are at the store. We will be taking donations all this week. I will load it all up and take it down to the food banks that need it.  

Three Dogs Bakery 
510 North State Road 
Briarcliff Manor, NY 10510.

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GF Hurricane Relief: District 21st Queens
I wrote to Councilman Dromm in Queens asking him where to donate gluten-free food. In 2011, Mr. Dromm introduced two pieces of legislation concerning gluten: Int. No. 502 and Res. No. 689. The passage of these bills in New York City would hopefully increase understanding nationwide about celiac disease and the importance of proper labeling. Council Member Dromm has a very personal connection to Celiac Disease, his mother has it and so does one of his former interns.

A few hours after I wrote to Mr. Dromm, I received an email from a friend that also works for a city council member. She said she was excited to see an email about gluten-free donations pass through her inbox and happy to see it was from me! I believe things happen for a reason and because of this email, I am now happy to report this:

Dear Neighbor:

In these challenging times as we recover from Hurricane Sandy, we must join together to provide relief to the victims of this devastating storm. New Yorkers have been incredibly generous with their donations and time, but the needs are ongoing.

My district office will serve as a collection site for donations going to survivors of Hurricane Sandy. Please bring your donations by 5pm this Friday November 9th.

Please bring donations to:
32-33A Junction Blvd
East Elmhurst, NY 11369

We are accepting donations from 9am-5pm

Your generosity is greatly appreciated, but please focus your donations on the items that people most need. Please look at the list below and give as you are able. 

Most sites are NOT accepting clothes right now. PLEASE DO NOT BRING CLOTHES. 

MOST ESSENTIAL ITEMS - Work gloves, batteries, flashlights, face masks, thick black contractor bags, warm blankets, toiletries, feminine hygiene products.

MOST ESSENTIAL MEDICINE ITEMS - Baby cough medicine, BAND-AIDS, Neosporin, Ace bandages, Advil, Tylenol. Please bring unopened containers.

CLEANING SUPPLIES - Mops, brooms, shovels, bleach, Clorox, buckets.

MOST ESSENTIAL FOOD ITEMS - bottled water, orange Juice, apple juice, granola bars, powdered milk, jelly, bread, and pet food. There is also a vital need for GLUTEN FREE FOOD. 

MOST ESSENTIAL BABY ITEMS - jars of baby food, formula, bottles, diapers and especially WIPES. Many parents do not have baby wipes for their children.

GENERAL DONATION TIPS - Please do not use this as a time to get rid of your unwanted items from your apartments and homes. Please organize your donations and clearly mark them so that they can distributed easily and quickly. Plastic grocery bags and carts for people to carry away their supplies would also be useful.

 If you are interested in volunteering with relief efforts, please call my office at 718-651-1917.

Julissa Ferreras
New York City Council Member
(718) 651-1917

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Monday, November 5, 2012
GF Hurricane Relief: A Local Way to Help the Gluten-Free
I have learned about three local community members that are personally donating gluten-free food to the hardest hit areas of the tri-state area. I am inspired by their giving to our gluten-free community. I also feel that these grassroots donations are the best way to get gluten-free food directly into the hands of Celiacs and others who need it.

Here is how they are helping:

One friend (who is not Celiac or gluten-free) emailed me last night to ask if Udi's bread was ok to make sandwiches and which peanut butter would be safe for those on a gluten-free diet. I gave her the information she needed as well as the prep information to help avoid cross contamination.

Another gluten-free community member has decided to clean out her pantry to see what gluten-free food she can donate. She has no power, yet is going out of her way to help the gluten-free community on Long Island.

A third gluten-free community member is hand delivering meals down to the Rockaways in Queens. Here's what she wrote:

Hi Erin - as you may know the Red Cross makes kosher and diabetic meals but no GF meals for those in need.  I am packing up a dozen GF meals to today and taking to a food bank that is delivering in the Rockaways, etc. Wondering if you could ask people to do to the same.
Each package will be labeled GF and list the products used and include:
1. 2 rice cracker sandwich various
2. water or juice box
3. a treat - example: I made corn bread last night
4. a piece of fruit
5. etc?
Not sure if it is possible to get the word out and a distribution site?  Just my thought.
Thanks. Linda 

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GF Hurricane Relief: The Community Food Bank of NJ
After some confusion and miscommunication from the organization, it looks like The Community Food Bank of New Jersey IS collecting gluten-free food. Thank you to Sloane, aka Allergic Girl, for updating me with this information!

Here is the update from the Allergic Girl website:

I called The Community Food Bank of NJ as did FAAN and Theresa Forsman, Director of Foundation and Corporate Relations of The Community Food Bank of NJ said they absolutely will accept shelf-stable, allergy-friendly goods and donations and you can send them to: 

The Community Food Bank of NJ
31 Evans Terminal,
Hillside, NJ 07205
Tel: (609) 383-8843

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Sunday, November 4, 2012
GF Hurricane Relief: Freeport and Long Beach, LI
This was on Facebook tonight. The drop-off on Long Island is specifically asking for gluten-free food. If you are on Long Island and have gas, please go to this drop-off center TOMORROW with your gluten-free donations. If you are a company, please ship your gluten-free food donations to the address below!

MONDAY HOURS! IMPORTANT **NEW 11/4 8:00 PM** INFORMATION FOR THOSE LOOKING TO DROP OFF OR MAIL SUPPLIES FOR LONG BEACH - please click the 'see more' link to read this entire announcement. 


157 E Sunrise Hwy, Freeport, NY 11520. 
Floor Mart Building across from Home Depot: yellow awning.
Packages can be shipped Attn: Chris Musto

Baby Supplies Baby Form
ula and Food, Dog and Cat Food, Blankets and Towels, Air Freshener, Brooms, First-Aid Kits, Cotton Balls, Mouthwash, Candles, Floss, Body Spray, AAA Batteries, Gluten-Free Products and Plastic Bins for storage.

Please keep in mind - we are not an official non-profit and therefore these donations are not tax-deductible. We are the people who developed and have been running the Long Beach, NY Hurricane Information facebook page. If you have concerns please direct your $$ donations through the Jaime Whelan Foundation, Long Beach,

Additional NEEDS: Industrial strength black garbage bags, heavy duty rubber gloves, NON-PERISHABLE FOOD, flashlights and batteries, GENERATORS, hand sanitizer, toilet paper, toiletries, paper goods, BABY ITEMS, gas and gas cans, PLASTIC BINS, dog food, manual can openers, BLANKETS, disposable cameras, markers and poster board, sanitary wipes, CLEANING SUPPLIES, water, soap, cereal, granola bars, packaged drinks, baby food and formula, towels, tarps, hydrogen peroxide, rubbing alcohol, bleach & clorox wipes, laundry detergent, toothbrush, toothpaste, paper towels 

Volunteers!! PLEASE SHOW UP!!! ESPECIALLY VOLUNTEERS WITH GAS!! Please show up during our OPEN - MONDAY 11-2 - hours or use the GoogleDoc resource. 

We invite all NON residents to drop off donations so that resident volunteers can run them in (much easier to get through security as a resident). 

Residents with donations can use this location or the Back of the Ice Arena at Fulton and the Bay. 


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Friday, November 2, 2012
Hurricane Help from Gluten-Free Companies
Gluten-free companies are stepping up big time to help those affected by Hurricane Sandy. This will be a running list of those companies that have pledged food, money, time, or all three to the relief effort.

1-2-3 Gluten-Free: 1-2-3 Gluten Free has teamed up with Feeding America to help those in need from this destruction. If you purchase any 1-2-3 Gluten Free baking mixes from their online store from now through November 8th, they will donate $1 per item to those in need. There is no special promo code and no limit -- the more product you purchase, the more they are able to donate. This is a great time for you to stock up for the holidays while helping others.

Pamela's Products: Monetary donation to the Red Cross. Pamela's is also matching all donations made personally by employees

Tricia Thompson, MS, RD of The Gluten-Free Dietitian: Tricia made a donation directly to the Food Bank of NYC using Amazon Prime which will arrive in 2 days. Her gluten-free food donation included breakfast cereal, snack bars, and macaroni and cheese. According to their Facebook page, will be donating the first-month payments on all new menu subscriptions between now and Christmas (end of December), as well as a portion of all subscription payments made by current members, to the American Red Cross International Response Fund toward Hurricane Sandy relief.

Udi's Gluten-Free Food: According to their Facebook page, Udi's will donate  bread, granola, and cookies to the following New York Food Pantries: City Harvest Food, Long Island Cares, and the Food Bank of NYC.

KIND Healthy Snacks: According to their Facebook page "In the wake of the hurricane, which has greatly impacted the KIND community - the KIND team will continue to share tens of thousands of bars along with 'thank you' cards to emergency personnel across the region throughout the next week – and we'd like to have your words printed on the cards."

I also received this email from a KIND employee: "we've been very busy getting bars into the hands of the people that need them most this past week... A volunteer that worked at one of the shelters we visited in Manhattan last week was almost in tears when we delivered 1,500 bars. He is a celiac and was unable to eat any of the food the shelter had onsite."

Dauphin Bakery: A local Brooklyn gluten-free bakery brought gluten-free, vegan cookies to the volunteers cleaning up DUMBO (Brooklyn).

Glutino: According to their Facebook page "We are pleased to be able to announce Glutino just sent out donations of our gluten free Breakfast Bars and Pretzels to help those affected by Hurricane Sandy. These will be delivered to the following locations: City Harvest Food, Long Island Cares, and the Food Bank of NYC."

NuGo Gluten-Free: According to their Facebook page: "At NuGo, our hearts go out to all of those on the East Coast affected by Hurricane Sandy. We sent a pallet of gluten-free NuGo protein bars (Dark, Free, and Slim) to NY and NJ to be distributed to those in need. You are in our thoughts as we hope for a speedy recovery."

Namaste Foods: Namaste Foods is going to donate 25 cases (approx. 175 lbs) of their mixes to include Pancake/Waffle, Muffins, Spice Cake and Pizza Crust to City Harvest.

Rudi's Gluten-Free Bakery: Rudi's has shipped gluten-free tortillas to City Harvest, Long Island Cares, Island Harvest, and to the drop-off donation site in Freeport, Long Island.

Kinnikinnick Foods: Donating about 1200 cases (4800 packages) of gluten-free bread and buns to Long Island Cares and City Harvest, 600 cases per location!

Bakery on Main: Bakery on Main has made a $1000 donation to the United Way Hurricane Sandy Recovery Fund. They chose for their money to stay in CT and help their home state. They have also sent out 400-500 granola bars to the Community Foodbank of NJ.

Jules Gluten-Free: Jules has donated a case of certified gluten-free oats to a food bank in New Jersey.

Dr. Schar: According to the Schar Facebook page: "With the devastating aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, New Jersey-based Dr. Schar, USA is thankful for the efforts of the Community FoodBank of New Jersey and the food pantries it supports statewide. On behalf of the Schar employees, we have made a $5,000 donation to support the distribution of food to those in need. If any of our fans would like to also contribute , please visit for more information."

Three Dogs Gluten-Free Bakery: Karen, the owner of Three Dogs GF Bakery, collected gluten-free food and donated directly to the Long Island Cares Food Bank at 84 Pine ST., Freeport, NY 11520.

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GF Hurricane Relief: Long Island Cares

I just received this email from the food drive coordinator for Long Island Cares. Being a native LI girl, this means a lot to me. If you are a gluten-free food distributor, here is how to donate to Long Island Cares organization. 

Hi Erin,  
Thank you for your willingness to assist during this difficult time. We are working very closely with our food pantries, soup kitchens and emergency shelters to give food and water to those in need right now. The gluten-free products will be made available to those in need based on requested need; meaning, we will keep it separate from our other products and give it out as we identify people with special need gluten free diets.  
Do you know how much food is looking to be donated? I ask because if it is more than 3 pallets of food we can advertise having the product available without the fear of running out. If it is less, we will not advertise openly, but ask our shelters directly if someone is in need.  
Attached is our food drive registration form. (See above for forms) At this time, we are unable to ship food drive boxes and posters, but they have available for pickup at our Freeport and Hauppauge locations. 10 Davids Dr. Hauppauge NY 11788 or 84 Pine Street Freeport NY 11520. Food can be delivered to either location as well.  
This weekend Freeport will be open Saturday and Sunday from 9am to noon. Normal hours are M-F from 9am to 3:30pm Hauppauge is open M-F from 8am to 4pm.  
Please let me know your questions so we can better coordinate the donation.  
Thank you, 
Elana Sissons 
Food Drive Coordinator 
Long Island Cares, Inc. 
The Harry Chapin Food Bank

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GF Hurricane Relief: Food Bank of NYC
Food Bank of NYC is now accepting gluten-free food donations. Please contact them directly if you would like to donate gluten-free products.

Food Sourcing Liaison 
Food Bank For New York City
355 Food Center Drive
Bronx, NY 10474

Note: When food donations get to the Food Bank of NYC warehouse, they are inventoried and put in an online ordering system for member agencies. The ordering system lists in detail what the product is. In this case it will be marked gluten-free. The agency (soup kitchen or food pantry) will see it online, order it, and have it delivered directly to them.

Update: Will accept food donations via! Please call ahead.

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GF Hurricane Relief: City Harvest
City Harvest is now accepting gluten-free food donations. Here is how to donate gluten-free products:

City Harvest Food Sourcing Contact Sheet
City Harvest New Donor Package

Hi Erin, 
Thanks so much for your support!  We would be more than happy to accept your donation as this is a wonderful donation!  I have attached a copy of our new food donor packet that includes some facts about City Harvest, our food safety guidelines, and other important information. 
City Harvest has a 50 lb. minimum to schedule a pickup by one of our trucks. Pickups are generally made Monday through Friday, from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Please read through the food safety guidelines carefully to understand how donated food needs to be packaged and stored prior to pick up. 
If your donation does not meet the 50 lb. minimum, we may be able to refer you to a nearby agency where you can drop off the donation.  Please feel free to contact me at 646-412-0754 or on my cell at 347-443-8413. 
Thank you again for your support. We look forward to working with you. 

Racine Rodriguez
Manager, Food Sourcing

6 East 32nd St  5th Floor
New York NY 10016
646.412.0754 646.412.0764

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Thursday, November 1, 2012
Hurricane Sandy Reflections
Devastating. Heart-breaking. Surreal. Incomprehensible. 

These are just some of the words I can think of in the post-hurricane daze I am in this week. I had to stop watching the news because I cannot take any more sadness. The images I am seeing on the news, the stories I am reading online, and the pleas for food and water I am reading on Twitter are breaking my heart.

Sunday night was honestly one of the scariest nights of my life. I live just outside of one of the NYC evacuation zones so I hunkered down in my apartment glued to the television and my computer. My mom lost power as of 2pm on Sunday, so I couldn't call her. My building started shaking like a freight train was running directly through the hallway. I was scared, I was crying, and I was alone. My social media outlets became my lifeline to everyone else and what they were going through. We were all freaking out by what we heard and saw on TV. We shared virtual tears as the East River and the Hudson River both breeched their banks and slowly crept across Manhattan. I saw neighborhoods I know so well being inundated with water and knew that life in New York City was immediately going to change. I finally pried myself away from the television around 1am and attempt to sleep. I was awake by 5am and back in front of the television. It was still dark out so I knew I had a few more hours until I would start to see how hard Hurricane Sandy hit our area. I could never have imagined what would come next.

Floods. Fires. Death. Destruction.

I sat in my apartment on Monday morning and sobbed. The photos were devastating. Breezy Point Queens, only 20 miles from my house lost 111 houses due to fire. NICU babies had to be evacuated from the NYU Langone hospital due to power issues. 8 square miles of Manhattan were in complete darkness and still underwater. The Jersey Shore and Long Beach, Long Island were under feet and feet of sand. How did my beloved tri-state get hit so hard by this tragedy?

I was VERY lucky. I had lights flickering and nerves rattling, but I was fine. My neighborhood was full of wind debris and lots of downed trees/power lines, but we were all ok. I worked from home on Monday in a complete daze. My clueless coworkers on the other side of the country were asking me ignorant questions and upper management barely addressed our situation. Not all of our NYC employees were accounted for until Tuesday night, yet no one from executive seemed to worry about this. This made me very sad. The NYC employees stayed connected as best as we could until we knew everyone was safe. This was midnight on Tuesday. Management said "NYC employees were in high spirits." I call bullshit. How could we be given the circumstances? 

I continued to watch the news until I just couldn't watch anymore. My heart was full of sadness so I turned it off. I continued with social media and became an absolute Twitter junkie. Family and friends started to reach out via text, emails, and phone calls. I was surprised by many of these calls and disappointed by the lack of contact from others. "Best friends" still haven't checked in on me. It's Thursday. I sucked up my pride and reached out to people that I've had fallings out with over the past few months. I wanted to pass the olive branch and give a place to stay. It was a nice way to reconnect and appreciated. 

I was searching for ways to help my neighbors, friends, and family. I offered my apartment for hot showers and phone charges yet no one came. Everyone has been fiercely loyal staying put in their apartment, which I can understand. I donated money to the local Red Cross. I gathered donations of food, socks, and baby supplies for the local housing projects that got evacuated. I volunteered to collect additional donations for the displaced and homeless storm victims this Friday night. Yet, I feel like it is not enough.

I know my city is resilient and we can pull together in a time of devastation. We've done it before and we will do it again. I just don't know if I can ever comprehend the magnitude of loss that so many friends and family are facing this week. I don't think any of us can. 

I am working on putting together a list of ways to help my community as well as those with gluten-free needs in the tri-state area. I've already done a lot but I know there is much more to do as we are on a very long road to recovery. Please stay tuned for my Friday morning post. Once you read it, please share with anyone and everyone you can. Even if you are far away, you can help.

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