OVERLAND PARK, Kan. - Food allergies - everything from gluten and peanuts to dairy and soy - mean Jan DeMoure's kids have often had to go without some of their childhood favorites like PB&Js and milk and cookies. That is, until now.
"We're able to make bread and chocolate cookies and cakes and things," said DeMoure who is a mom of four.
While under normal circumstances, the DeMoure's and families like them wouldn't need help from food banks like the ReNewed Health Food Pantry at the New Haven SDA Church, but the rising costs of allergen-free foods means they have few other options.
Hemp milk can cost as much as $15 per gallon.
"Getting the safest food for our family is so expensive, but our budget doesn't allow us to keep up with that," she explained. "Being able to come here and get enough for a whole month is really great. It's been a relief for us."
Emily Brown started the Food Equality Initiative to help families struggling to afford food alternatives like hemp milk, which can go for as much as $15 a gallon. It's the first food bank of its kind in the nation.
"Those items are often not found at regular food pantries and food banks," said Brown. "They also can be very difficult to access because they are expensive or they may not even be sold in our community, so it can be very challenging for some individuals to access them."
She said this pantry is a literal lifeline for local families who can't afford specialty foods.
The food bank offers alternatives to everything from flour to milk and even eggs and snack foods.
"If they can't afford it, they are making that difficult choice of giving their child something that can make them sick or going hungry, and no family should have to make that choice," said Brown.
Instead, thanks to the ReNewed Health Food Pantry, the only choosing they have to do is whether to have gluten-free waffles or pancakes for breakfast.
SPIN! Event to Help Restock the ReNewed Health Food Pantry
WHEN: Monday, May 23 at 6:15 p.m.
WHERE: SPIN! Pizza at 6541 W. 119th St., Overland Park
HOW: SPIN! Neapolitan Pizza will donate $1 to the Food Equality Initiative for every cyclist who participates in its free Monday night bike ride at 6:15 p.m. on May 23. Cyclists can follow either a shorter, easier or longer, more challenging route. In addition, diners at that location will be offered the opportunity to donate, with SPIN! Pizza ensuring a minimum donation of $500.