When allergies make the search for food even harder for families in need.

Matt O'Donnell Image
Wednesday, November 1, 2017
Helping the hungry in the Delaware Valley
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Helping the hungry in the Delaware Valley. Matt O'Donnell reports during Action News at 5:30 p.m. on November 1, 2017.

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- For low income families, putting food on the table can be a real struggle, but when you add food allergies to the mix, the risk of going hungry rises dramatically.

Sixteen-year-old Rachel Gannon is perfectly healthy now, but 4 years ago, she was suffering from debilitating stomach and joint pains, vomiting and headaches.

Heather Gannon, Founder, The Rachel Way said, "Basically turned in to a skeleton in front of our eyes.

She couldn't even stand in the shower. I had to put her in a bath to bathe her she was so weak."

Doctors diagnosed Rachel with severe gluten and dairy intolerance.

"When we finally got her off those it was amazing within weeks how she recovered and started to become healthy again," Heather said.

But Heather, a yoga teacher, and her husband a carpenter watched their grocery bill skyrocket as they bought the gluten and dairy free foods their daughter needed to stay healthy.

"It can be three to four times the price of regular traditional foods," Heather said.

So in late 2015, Heather started The Rachel Way, a non-profit gluten and dairy free pantry, inside the Church at the Plymouth Meeting Mall.

Creating a lifeline for people like Kristy Burt. She and three of her four children suffer from food allergies.

"I don't know what I would do if this resource wasn't here," Kristy said.

When Heather first started The Rachel Way, in her daughter's honor, she was buying the food out of her own pocket and just giving it away out of gratitude.

"She was ill, luckily recovered, and how do you turn that into something good for the world?" asked Heather.

She now gets by on donations and a major grant from The Phillies organization. Philabundance provides her with fresh fruits and vegetables

Kristy Burt doesn't know how she'd feed her family without it.

"We really struggle and we do our best so a resource like that is really meaningful. It makes a huge difference," Kristy said.

The Rachel Way is one of many hunger relief organizations Philabundance supports. If you'd like to help, click on Rachel Way and Philabundance.


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