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Kim McInnis, founder of the Pictou County Celiac Support Group, left, and Joanne Whidden, treasurer, present Tom Foley of the Pictou County Food Bank with gift certificates to purchase gluten-free food for the bank.
NEW GLASGOW - The Pictou County Food Bank will have food available for people with celiac disease.
The Pictou County Celiac Support Group recently donated $500 to the local food bank so people with the disease who visit the Pictou County Food Bank will be able to get the products they need.
Kim McInnis of Trenton founded the local celiac support group after being diagnosed with the disease 10 years ago. Celiac disease is a condition that damages the lining of the small intestine and prevents it from absorbing parts of food that are important for staying healthy. The damage is due to a reaction to eating gluten, which is found in wheat, barley, rye and possibly oats.
"There are more and more people with this every day," she said, adding she will be working with the food bank to help volunteers make the right selection of foods for the bank. "If I lost my job tomorrow and had to go to the food bank, I don't think there is anything I can eat there right now. We just want to help people get the food they need."
She said symptoms vary so much from person to person that it's often difficult for people to get a diagnoses from their doctors. However, she added, once people are properly diagnosed they can start getting their life back, but eating the right foods.
"If you eat what you are suppose to eat, you won't have any problems," she said.
This may seem like a simple solution to someone one without the disease, but to those learning about it for the first time, the process can be overwhelming, she said.
Standing in the Atlantic Superstore natural food isle, McInnis named three or four products that were good for people with the disease to eat and other name-brand products that they should stay away from.
"You have to read labels," she said. "You also have to make sure that food doesn't get cross-contaminated."
Tom Foley of the Pictou County Food Bank said signs will be placed in the food bank to let people know that gluten-free products are available and it will also be updating its database to determine how many of its clients need such foods.
In addition to the recent donation, the Pictou County Celiac Support Group will also be hosting its annual walk on May 27 from 1-3 p.m. at the Parkdale track. Pledge sheets are available at the Altantic Superstore or by calling McInnis at 755-9667 or contacting Joanne Whidden at email@example.com.