Stormy Weather – Don’t Forget the Gluten-Free Food

By Francie Kelley, Executive Director, Celiac Kids Connection, Boston Children’s Hospital

In the wake of hurricane Harvey, with Irma on the way and our New England winter just around the corner, we need to think about being prepared. Here is a reprint of an article from our August, 2016 edition of “Celiac Digest” about emergency preparations.

The hurricane season is upon us and that will be followed by winter. Both hurricanes and winter storms bring with them the possibility of lost electricity, being stranded at home and even the possibility that you may need to evacuate.

Being prepared for emergencies is important for everyone. And a lot of what you need to do to prepare has nothing to do with celiac disease or the gluten-free (GF) diet. But, if stores are unable to get deliveries, fresh food will run out, shelves will be depleted and finding GF options could be difficult. In a major disaster, relief agencies and shelters may not be equipped to handle the GF diet. For families with a member with celiac disease, our preparation for emergencies needs to include ensuring access to GF food.

The Red Cross and the Federal Government have great information on-line for preparing an emergency plan. They also have great lists of the items you should include in your emergency kit. To get to the Red Cross information go to and type “emergency kit” into the search box. This will give you the link for preparing an emergency kit. For the government information go to and type “emergency” into the search box. This will give you links for preparing an emergency kit as well as downloading a guide for emergency preparations.

Emergency plans can be very elaborate or very basic. I tend toward a Pollyanna view and keep plans basic. For me the critical elements are having a communication plan, plenty of battery operated lights, a battery operated radio and a full tank of gas. Most of the time, I do not have a full tank of gas. In fact, I typically wait until the last possible moment to fill-up. But when bad weather is predicted I make sure the tank is full.

I do not keep an emergency kit on hand. But again, when bad weather is approaching I do make sure I have the basics in the house. This includes batteries, bottled water and non-perishable food. Canned goods are great in an emergency. But, they are no good if the power is out and you only have an electric can opener. Make sure you have a manual can opener.

 Most organizations suggest you have food for three days. A lot of the food you have on hand can be used by both those who need to eat GF and those who do not. But, given the reality that after the storm you may have a hard time getting GF food, make sure you have plenty of GF options for the family members who need them.

Here are some ideas of foods to have on-hand in times of emergencies.

  • Canned meats
  • Beans
  • Tuna
  • Beef jerky
  • Peanut Butter
  • Canned fruit
  • Fruit
  • Powdered milk
  • GF Crackers
  • GF Cereal
  • GF Bars

We all hope that we will never need to use our emergency plans. But when an emergency strikes it is good to have something in place. It is also important that we do not forget to include GF provisions in our emergency planning.

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