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Tricia Thompson, MS, RD is a nutrition consultant, author and speaker specializing in celiac disease and the gluten-free diet. She is the author of The Gluten-Free Nutrition Guide and has a MS degree in nutrition from Tufts University in Boston, Massachusetts and a BA degree in English Literature from Middlebury College in Vermont.

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Living Gluten-Free

 
by Tricia Thompson, MS, RD, The Gluten-Free Dietitian

 
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While it certainly doesn’t feel like it here in the Northeast, the month of May " Celiac Disease Awareness Month " is just around the corner.

In honor of this event, the Gluten Intolerance Group is launching its Chef to Plate National Awareness Campaign. This campaign is designed to spread awareness of celiac disease and restaurants offering gluten-free menu options.

Hundreds of restaurants are participating, including chain and individual establishments. Some participating restaurants will be serving a gluten-free meal on Sunday May 3rd and displaying free educational resources on celiac disease. Other participating restaurants will display awareness materials throughout the month.

Cynthia Kupper, Executive Director of GIG and Campaign Coordinator provides some additional information.

Why did the Gluten Intolerance Group decide to start the Chef to Plate Campaign?

We want to support restaurants that are being proactive in supporting persons with special dietary needs and at the same time educate the public about celiac disease. Studies show that persons with celiac disease find dining out to be difficult. By working with restaurants that offer gluten-free menu options we have a positive resource for spreading awareness of celiac disease, and can also show support to those establishments already supporting gluten-free consumers.

Will this be an annual event?
Yes! The event is planned to be annual and the vision is that it will grow. Already this year, we have international support for the program in Canada

What are the goals for this year’s campaign?
The goals of the campaign are to:

• Spread national awareness of celiac disease and gluten intolerance conditions during Celiac Disease Awareness month
• Spread recognition and awareness of restaurants offering gluten-free menu options
• Bring peace of mind to persons with gluten intolerances when dining out

How many restaurants do you hope will participate?
Our goal is to have restaurants in at least 25 states participate. We want to include individual and chain restaurants in the program.

Do restaurants have to be a member of the Gluten-Free Restaurant Awareness Program to participate?
No, this is not a training and education program like the Gluten-Free Restaurant Awareness Program or other similar programs. The goal is general public awareness. We are encouraging participation by restaurants that gluten-free consumers already have a comfort level in dining.

What are the requirements for restaurant participation?
Requirements for participation are simple. Restaurants that have a current gluten-free menu offering simply sign up and agree to display awareness materials " either a poster or table tents offering basic information about celiac disease and gluten intolerances.

What can interested individuals or groups do to help promote this campaign?
They can bring information to restaurants they trust and get them to sign up. For restaurants, it is free advertising in exchange for helping to spread awareness. For gluten-free consumers, it is an opportunity to get involved at a grassroots level.

Restaurants with gluten-free menu options who would like to participate should contact the Gluten-Free Restaurant Awareness Program at gfrap@gluten.net.

If you would like to patronize a participating restaurant, please click here for a list of participating restaurants.

If you would like to work with a local restaurant to help publicize this event in your community, please contact gfrap@gluten.net.

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@ 4:58pm ET on March 31, 2009
Great to see GIG doing this program and nice to see you supporting it as well Tricia. Hopefully we can get something going with the restaurants in Canada at the same time. Making gluten-free living easier - one step at a time!

Beth Armour

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