Monday, August 13, 2012

Texas Eagle Scout Raises Over $10,000 for Local Gluten Free Food Bank.



We were so pleased to be able to support this great project. We asked Carey to be a guest blogger so he could tell his story and to perhaps inspire others to get involved in local efforts to making gluten free available to those in need. Fantastic job Carey!


Two years ago, at the age of 14, I was diagnosed with Celiac Disease. Since then I have been placed on a very strict gluten free diet which has improved my health greatly. This new diet has taken a toll on my family. Our monthly family grocery bill more than doubled, and my mom had to get complete new sets of kitchen supplies and designate sections of drawers to hold them. Not to mention, gluten free food can be very expensive and is not found in many common stores.


After speaking with my dietitian, I realized that celiac’s from lower income families choose to live with the symptoms because they cannot afford gluten free food. This is when I made it my mission to start a gluten free food section at the Montgomery County Food Bank in Conroe, Texas - and I would use my Eagle Scout project to make this a reality! After talking with my Eagle Scout advisor and talking through various options for achieving Eagle badge, the most prestigious rank in Boy Scouts, I decided that I wanted to try to start a gluten free section at the local food bank in my town. I had set a goal of filling a truck full of food - hoping to get $3000 worth of GF food.


I started my project by sending letters to family and friends asking them for monetary donations to purchase GF food. I held two food drives at the local Kroger grocery stores. I was able to collect over $2500 in food and money donations at these food drives. Needless to say, I cleared shelves taking nearly all the gluten free food from our 2 Kroger and HEB grocery stores!! After the food drives were completed I reached out to businesses to achieve even more funds and food. With the generous donations of family, friends and even strangers, we raised over $3600 in additional cash. Gluten Free Houston also donated 13 cases of food.


Having been on a gluten free diet for the past 2 years, I have developed a strong preference for certain brands of GF foods. I decided to contact several of my favorite gluten free companies trying to get donations for the food bank. Surprisingly, Mr. Jay Bigam from Kinnikinnick was the only company to respond and graciously agreed to support my project. Mr. Bigam and the team at Kinnikinnick were nothing short of miracle workers. Kinnikinnick supports many food banks in Canada and the Edmonton area so I should not have been surprised to find them willing to support our efforts in Montgomery County, Texas!


After many emails and working the details between Mr. Bigam and the food bank, I received a generous donation of 120 cases of Gluten Free Food from Kinnikinnick this past week. Delivery day was so exciting! On Thursday, August 9 my family and I loaded my Boy Scout troop trailer with the food I had purchased and collected and went to the food bank. After unloading my trailer, the truck from Canada showed up with a pallet of gluten free food donated from Kinnikinnick. The impact of the project was evident when the food bank staff came outside to watch. A reporter from the Conroe Courier showed up to take my picture with all of the food and write a story. It was a very exciting time for me. After all the food was weighed, the food donations weighed over 1600 pounds with a value of over $10,000!!!


I am amazed at the response of the community during this project. With the use of Facebook (liking Kinnikinnick, Montgomery County Food Bank, Gluten Free Houston), family, friends and strangers alike have become more aware of the prevalence of Celiac Disease and gluten intolerances and I don’t feel so isolated as I confront this life challenge. In fact, with the experience of this project and having met many wonderful people, my life is enriched and we have helped to educate a community on how to take care of its own.


The food bank was overwhelmed with the amount of food they received from my Eagle Project and are excited about being able to help many families in the community suffering with celiac disease and gluten intolerances. Thank you Mr. Bigam and Kinnikinnick. Your generosity is overwhelming and I appreciate all the help you provided - helping me exceed my goal!!


If you would like additional information on my project or the Montgomery County Food Bank please email me at Ulrichcarey@yahoo.com.

Carey Ulrich

The Woodlands, TX