Tuesday, March 28

The Rachel Way: Gluten and Dairy Free Food Pantry Cooking Classes

There are certain kinds of people in the world that take action when they see a problem. Heather Gannon is one of those people. After her daughter, Rachel, was diagnosed as gluten and dairy intolerant, she realized the high cost of specialty foods. She wondered how people who needed food assistance could afford allergy friendly food. So she started The Rachel Way, a gluten free and dairy free food pantry located outside of Philadelphia in Plymouth Meeting, PA, dedicated to helping people in need who struggle with food allergies and sensitivities.

In order to spur awareness of and donations for the food pantry, Heather is now offering fun allergy friendly kids cooking classes open to everyone. You don't need food assistance to participate. In fact, it's a great time to bring along allergy friendly foods to donate to others in need!

We recently attended a cooking class and got to meet Heather and see the awesome food pantry. Look at all those donations!

Allergy Friendly Kids Cooking Classes

We brought a few boxes of coconut and soy milk to donate. There were a bunch of other donations by the time everyone came for the cooking class.

Allergy Friendly Kids Cooking Classes

Each kiddo got to choose one of these awesome apron's to wear. How cute is that!?  They also had the ingredients setup in stations. Since Little Guy also has to avoid nuts and sesame (plus dairy), I worked with Heather before the cooking class to make sure all ingredients were safe. She was more than accommodating to make sure everything Little Guy used was safe. 
Allergy Friendly Kids Cooking Classes

Rabiya Bower, RD, LDN (here in the black apron) was the wonderful cooking class teacher. She made sure to clearly give the directions, and even had a mini nutrition talking circle with the kids while the baked apple crisps were cooking!
The Rachel Way, Gluten and Dairy Free Food Pantry

Little Guy and Little Gal had fun cutting their apples for fresh apple crisps, and putting all the ingredients together.
The Rachel Way, Gluten and Dairy Free Food Pantry
While we waited for the apple crisps to cook, the kids also got to try banana ice cream (just frozen bananas blended to make ice cream. Heather made sure to supply safe Enjoy Life chocolate chips. Smiles all around :)
Allergy Friendly Kids Cooking Classes

The Rachel Way, Gluten and Dairy Free Food Pantry

Want to know more about The Rachel Way and how you can help? Keep reading!

Q&A with Heather Gannon, Founder, The Rachel Way

Why did you start The Rachel Way? 
My daughter became acutely ill a few years ago. After months of doctors and tests and not many answers, we finally found out she was gluten and dairy intolerant. On the way home from the doctor, we stopped at the grocery store and both left in tears. I enrolled in nutrition school the next day to help families with food intolerances not feel as overwhelmed as we did. Then as a family, we felt the pinch of buying specialty foods and couldn't imagine where people would get safe food when they needed food assistance with dietary restrictions.

How did you start The Rachel Way? 
I have never done anything like this before and asked anyone who would talk with me about starting a non profit. Everyone told me not to do it, it's too expensive, too much work, just buy food and donate it. That only made me want to do it even more! That wasn't the vision I had. I researched how to file the paperwork and went from there.

What kind of food does The Rachel Way usually need? 
We always need gluten free bread, brown rice pasta, condiments (ketchup, sauces, dressings) spaghetti sauce, Daiya (vegan) mac cheese, protein drinks, cereal, snacks and cookies (especially for kid's lunches) and non-dairy milks (almond, coconut and rice)

Is there any food you DON'T accept? 
No, as long as it is labeled gluten free, it's good!

How does someone who needs help get food at The Rachel Way? 
We welcome and help anyone who needs assistance with gluten free and/or dairy free food. Give us a call (484-804-5293) or email (Heather@therachelway.org). You can also visit our website: www.therachelway.org. 

How many people/families do you serve each month? 
At least 20-30, some come frequently and some not so regularly, it depends on the need and how far they are coming from.

How can someone donate to The Rachel Way? 
We have a donated button on our website. There is a bin labeled The Rachel Way outside of the pantry and I am always happy to meet people with donations. Grocery store gift cards are also welcome.

What kind of events are coming up for The Rachel Way and how can someone get involved?
We have started monthly gluten free kid's activities. Each month will be a gluten free cooking class or some kind of food activity. In April, we will be dying eggs with natural colorings and decorating cookies. May will be a Mother's Day tea. We are always on the lookout for volunteers to help with events and some help around the pantry if needed. 


Diane said...

Very good Kathryn....Looks like the kiddos had a fun time too😃

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