It’s a fact: Adults and children dealing with food allergies or Celiac disease spend more than four times as much for allergy-friendly and gluten-free products as those who are not allergic to certain foods. ReNewed Health Food Pantry, recently opened at the New Haven Church in Overland Park, Kansas, offers free “safe” foods to help people make ends meet.

“Families should not have to choose hunger over health,” said Amy Goode, one of the founders of ReNewed Health. Another co-founder, Emily Brown, envisions ReNewed Health setting the standard for pantries of this nature, not only in Kansas City but across the nation.

Both Amy and Emily have children about the same age with similar food allergies.

According to Chanda Nunes, associate pastor at New Haven, this is the first food pantry of its kind to open in the nation. “We are so excited and blessed to have this powerful ministry in our church,” Nunes said. “We believe this will not only be a powerful ministry for our church, but also for the community as they become involved.”

Karen Miller, a retired dietitian and another co-founder, said that manufacturers, stores and a gluten-free bakery donate much of the pantry food. “What we are providing are the core items that families need to put together a meal,” Miller explained.

To qualify, families need a physician’s note or lab results verifying allergies to certain foods. They also must demonstrate financial need.

During a ribbon-cutting ceremony opening ReNewed Health, Paul Lyons, president of the Overland Park City Council, said, “This is the kind of thing that makes our community better. It’s good to see a group of people like you and a church like this looking out and saying ‘what can I do to help others.’”

Learn more about the ReNewed Health Food Pantry

This article was also published in the July/August 2015 print edition of OUTLOOK. It was written by John Treolo, communication director for the Kansas-Nebraska Conference.