The Celiac Disease Foundation (CDF) is pleased to announce the release of a report representing the culmination of two years of collaboration with Los Angeles County and senior leadership from other cross-sector partners to address chronic, growing food insecurity among dietary-restricted patients and to increase access to food that is appropriate – and necessary – to successfully manage celiac disease and other chronic health conditions.  

During the Covid-19 pandemic, CDF Chief Executive Officer Marilyn G. Geller was invited to present information to the Los Angeles County Chief Sustainability Office regarding specific barriers in the food system faced by individuals with dietary restrictions – particularly in accessing gluten-free food. Following this presentation, Marilyn was invited to chair the Los Angeles County Food Equity Roundtable (LACFER) Dietary Restrictions Working Group with CDF Board Member John Wagner, to ensure any future changes to nutrition programs include provisions for food that is appropriate for celiac disease patients and others with medically necessary dietary requirements. As part of her leadership in this role, Marilyn recruited representatives from Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE) to lend their perspective, and managed formulation of the working group recommendations to be included in the final report. 

Titled “An Action Plan to Strengthen LA’s Food System,” the LACFER report was released during a virtual event hosted by the Annenberg Foundation; you may view the event here. The Roundtable’s work was also represented by LACFER Director Swati Chandra during September’s White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health as part of a discussion on leveraging research and data to expand pilot programs and inform policy.  

The action plan proposes concrete steps to end food and nutrition insecurity in Los Angeles County by: 

  • Improving the affordability of healthy and medically necessary foods 
  • Increasing the equitable access to healthy and medically necessary foods 
  • Building market demand and consumption of healthy and medically necessary foods 
  • Supporting sustainability and resilience in food systems and supply chains 

As a two-year pilot program, the Roundtable unites a broad coalition of government, philanthropic, and nonprofit organizations dedicated to fostering justice by developing a comprehensive, integrated plan to resolve chronic inequities in the L.A. County food system. The Roundtable’s objective has been to develop the strategic plan with a coordinated, systemic approach in year one, and initial implementation and assessment starting in year two.  

The Celiac Disease Foundation looks forward to its continued work with the Roundtable in 2023 and that this model will be adopted by counties throughout the country. 

You may read related news coverage here, here and here.