On October 11, the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (NFCA) celebrated its 10th anniversary at the Arts Ballroom in Philadelphia. "The gala commemorated a flourishing decade of advocacy and progress on behalf of the gluten-free community, and recognized ten honorees integral to the NFCA’s achievements, including Dorothy Binswanger; Ed Snider; Bill Green; Richard Binswanger; Joseph F. Coradino; Bea, Bob and Will Bast; Francis Carey; Frances and Don MacMaster; Peter Vogt; and Anne and Walter Waldie."
Prominent, creative chefs from STARR Events catered the (gluten-free) dinner, which was enjoyed by donors, sponsors, and other supporters of the gluten-free community. The event also boasted a silent auction, with proceeds benefiting NFCA’s educational and research initiatives. Thomas Jefferson University Hospital was the main sponsor of the evening.
"10 years ago, we set out to make gluten-free food more available, and today we can claim victory. Our donors, sponsors and partners have helped build the gluten-free market into a $12.4 billion industry,” said Alice Bast, President of NFCA. “But there are many battles left to fight. Gluten-free food safety needs to be a priority, and 83% of Americans living with celiac disease are still undiagnosed. As we move into our next ten years, our goal is to fund and support programs that help to ensure food safety, better diagnosis of the condition, and ultimately prevent or even cure celiac disease."
The gala raised capital to support three critical areas where funding is most needed, including:
- NFCA’s Gluten-Free Training Program, GREAT Schools, Colleges and Camps: Provides critically important education for foodservice providers in cafeterias and dining halls across the country to help ensure food safety for children and young adults.
- Primary Care Provider Education: About 83 percent of people who have celiac disease remain needlessly sick, unaware of their condition. When left untreated, celiac disease can often lead to severe health difficulties, such as cancer and infertility. NFCA’s primary care program educates primary care physicians nationwide to help them better identify and treat celiac disease.
- NFCA’s Research Initiative Fund: Helps physicians, scientists and researchers discover new ways to improve diagnosis and treatment.
Since she founded it in 2003, Bast's NFCA has been the main supporter of those with celiac disease and other gluten-related disorders. NFCA’s educational programs have contributed to a 15 percent increase in celiac diagnoses, and have drawn major awareness to the cause. The NFCA has also advised national grocery and super store brands, restaurants, and other food providers on how to sell and prepare safe, affordable, and appetizing gluten-free products, resulting in the creation of new national standards for food labeling, and have "facilitated the growth of the gluten-free market into a $12.4 billion industry."
It isn't overstating it to say that without Alice Bast and the NFCA, life for celiacs would be ailing, more difficult and much less tasty.