Food insecurity a struggle for those with celiac disease, Calgarian says

A Calgary woman with celiac disease says her budget can’t keep up with the rising cost of the food she needs. 

Jade Jones says she’s had extreme stomach problems her whole life. She was diagnosed with celiac disease when she was 29. 

The now 35-year-old says for those who need a special diet, rising food costs are making the situation dire. She’s relied on food banks in the past, but says they don’t always have the gluten-free choices she needs. 

“All of the food is really expensive…unless things are on sale I can’t really afford to buy things, so I eat a lot of fresh produce and unprocessed meats, and I honestly only eat about once a day,” Jones said.  

Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder that can be triggered by gluten. There’s no treatment and those with the disease need to avoid the protein found in bread, cereal, pasta and many other foods. 

Jade Jones shows the celiac tattoo that acts as a form of medical identification. (Ose Irete/CBC )

Jones is on a fixed income due to chronic pain issues, receiving less than $2,000 a month that goes toward bills and groceries. 

“My grocery budget is about $150 a month. And that’s not enough food for a person. But I don’t eat until 8, 9, 10, 11 o’clock at night.” 

“Usually by the middle to the end of the month, I have no money left to be able to go and afford to get anything, even milk, or like eggs or anything.” 

Released last week, Canada’s Food Price Report estimates Canadians will be paying between five to seven per cent more for food in 2022. 

Food bank project focuses on gluten-free 

Daren Hinton, owner of Calgary-based Lakeview Bakery, which focuses on special dietary needs, says the bakery has been running a food drive for the last nine years at Christmas, aimed at providing the Calgary Food Bank with more gluten-free options. 

Owner Daren Hinton packages products at Lakeview bakery in South West Calgary, AB on December 10, 2021. The Bakery known for its gluten-free offerings runs an annual gluten-free food drive in support of the Calgary Food Bank. (Ose Irete/CBC)

“Not too many [programs] specifically focus on the gluten-free items and I think it’s really appreciated,” says Hinton, who also has celiac disease.

“I obviously want to support other celiacs who find themselves in a time of need,” he said.

Hinton says he’s received support from across Calgary. 

“Regardless of celiac or non-celiac, I think Calgarians are just willing to help with that drive and recognize the need there.” 

The Calgary Food Bank says it puts together hampers catering to celiac, renal, prenatal and baby diets. It distributed 15,444 specialty hampers to clients last year. 

More than a thousand of those hampers were for people with celiac disease, a spokesperson with the food bank said. 

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