Nation’s first allergy-friendly food pantry opens its doors

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Overland Park, KS (KCTV) — Buying the right kind of food for the 6 percent of adults and 4 percent of kids who suffer from food allergies can be expensive.

But now they have help. The first allergy-friendly food pantry in the nation is open in Overland Park.

Most food at the grocery store contains gluten, wheat, dairy or nuts – all things people with food allergies have to avoid. The problem is the foods they can eat cost more.

That is why the ReNewed Health food pantry is so important.

With young children, there is plenty for Emily Brown to worry about. But when doctors diagnosed both her daughters with food allergies, everyday worry turned to stress as she tried to feed them foods without ingredients like wheat and peanuts.

“It can be very, very expensive,” she said.

That is because allergy-friendly food can cost four times as much as regular food. And as Brown found out, government programs, like Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), don’t pay for some food.

“And when you don’t have access to that, it can be very frustrating, very difficult,” she said.

After sharing her difficulties with her friend Amy Goode, whose son also suffers from food allergies, the two decided to open ReNewed Health, the country’s first allergy-friendly food pantry.

Area businesses donated gluten-free breads, pastas, flours and more. The New Haven Seventh Day Adventist Church, located at 8714 Antioch Rd., even provided the space for the pantry.

“There are certain allergies that are more expensive than others to have,” Goode said. “Having these specialty foods kind of fills some of the niches that somebody wouldn’t be able to afford.”

Those who suffer from food allergies risk getting sick, even dying, without access to the right food. But thanks to the two mothers, they have help.

“It’s a huge relief for me, and I’m just so excited to help others,” Brown said.

People who need to use the pantry should bring a doctor’s note as proof they have a medical need for the food.

The pantry is open on Wednesdays from 9:30 a.m. to noon. The founders are holding an open house from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday.

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