Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Celiac Awareness Month 2011


May is Celiac Awareness Month. As per usual, there's been no shortage of events going on. Perhaps you caught the work of 1 in 133 earlier this month, when they built a massive gluten-free cake in Washington, D.C. to draw attention to the FDA's long-past-due mandate to develop a gluten-free standard in the United States.

There are a number of great organizations doing awareness, advocacy and research work on behalf of the gluten-free community. One of those is the Pennsylvania-based National Foundation for Celiac Awareness. Founded in 2003 by Alice Bast, it has become a leading voice on behalf of those with celiac disease, and increasingly, on behalf of the greater gluten-free world. (Did you know that yesterday, Bast was honored as the recipient of the prestigious 90th annual Philadelphia Award?)

As part of this month's activities, NFCA is highlighting one blogger each day. As you might guess, today is our day! But though today's highlight is in the name of Celiac Awareness Month, in truth it marks just another day in the long, mutually-supportive relationship between NFCA and No Gluten, No Problem. I've long been a fan of the work of the NFCA. So much so that in 2009 I signed on as a spokesperson for the organization as one of their Athletes for Awareness. (You might recall last fall, when I ran an ultramarathon in support of the NFCA. With your help, and the support of some great gluten-free food companies, we raised some $3,600 for the NFCA! Stay tuned... I'm planning another fundraiser for later this year.)

I don't just support any old celiac or gluten-free organization. I have to believe in the work they do. See that they're effective. Know that they're a voice for the gluten-free community I can get behind. NFCA is just such an organization. Here's a few highlights I find particularly notable:

  • They have great information for patients seeking diagnosis, including a widely-distributed brochure, and a symptoms checklist.
  • For patients already diagnosed, they have great resources about living gluten-free with celiac disease, including medical information, food and recipes, links to blogs, free webinars and much more.
  • As part of its GREAT initiative (Gluten-free Resource Education and Awareness Training), NFCA has targeted educational modules and continuing medical education programs for healthcare professionals, including allied health organizations, physicians, nurses, mental health professionals, dietitians, and most recently added, pharmacists.
  • Also as part of the GREAT initiative, NFCA has targeted education programs for the food service industry, including for chefs who work in restaurant kitchens, as well as for manufacturers that make gluten-free foods.
  • And while I'm on the topic of gluten-free food manufacturers, did you know that NFCA is partnering with Quality Assurance International, a leading U.S. certifier of organic foods, to launch a new gluten-free certification program? Take their survey today (I did!) to give your input and help shape the program.
  • Speaking of what's new, NFCA has also launched Kid Central, targeted at children and their parents.
Are you getting the picture? In short, there's a lot to love about the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness. Which is why I support them, and I hope you'll get involved, too.

- Pete

1 comment:

glutenfreeforgood said...

Great post, Pete (just what I would expect)!

I agree, Alice has done a phenomenal job of increasing awareness and doing it with style, grace and innovation. Her very first fund raiser was a donation yoga class. I LOVE that! And it goes to show how much difference one passionate person can make. She had a vision and she inspired people to jump on her bandwagon and share her GF adventure. I went all the way to NYC for one of her first events years ago. She's a doll.

Can't wait to hear about your next "athletes" fundraiser! Lots of athletes are going GF and improving their performances, even without a celiac diagnosis. I'm sure Nadal is wondering what all the buzz is about. =)

Melissa