Although there are people who adhere to a gluten-free diet who don’t suffer from gluten issues, many of us are celiac, meaning that even the smallest exposure to gluten can make us quite ill. An estimated 3 million Americans suffer from celiac disease, an autoimmune reaction to gluten, a protein found in wheat, rye, and barley, leading to a variety of physical and mental symptoms, some of which are quite severe and can even cause fatal complications if left untreated. Thus it’s imperative that celiacs like myself cut gluten completely out of our diets. As you can imagine, such a strict gluten-free diet has its ramifications on dining out, transforming it into quite a different—that is, more challenging—experience. Luckily, the Gluten Free Restaurant Awareness Program (GFRAP) is one step ahead of us; they’ve designed a wonderful program that benefits both the gluten-intolerant community as well as restaurant owners.
So how does it work? Over 1600 independent and chain restaurants participate in the program, each one receiving “extensive publicity” in GFRAP’s website, glutenfreerestaurants.org, as well as in Gluten-Free Group of North America’s publications. An RD (Registered Dietician) with extensive experience in restaurant food preparation helped develop the program’s resources and review the GF menus and GF options.
Three different levels of accreditation are available to restaurants: Basic, Advanced, and Gluten Free Food Service (GFFS). GFRAP offers restaurant marketing to the GF community and makes available Resource Persons for consultation to owners as they adapt their restaurant in accordance with the GFRAP program they choose. In the end, restaurants receive the benefits of increased publicity and knowledge regarding creating a adining experience safe for its gluten-intolerant patrons.
This program isn’t just for restaurants—it’s for gluten-free diners, who can search the database on glutenfreerestaurants.org for local eateries or restaurants along the road if they’re travelling. They can also find out special information about the restaurants they choose and even give feedback after their dining experience is over, which is helpful to other diners as well as the GFRAP staff.
Owners and managers can fill out an online application available at GFRAP’s website, glutenfreerestaurants.org; the form can be mailed with payment or faxed, with online payment available. Call 253-218-2957 or e-mail GFRAP@gluten.net for more information or to get a quote. Prices start at $100 with the Basic Level certification, but pricing varies according to the three levels of accreditation and the unique character of each restaurant.
GFRAF asserts that restaurants will see numerous benefits in offering to their patrons a gluten-free menu or at least gluten-free options. 8 to 10% of the U.S. population is currently on a gluten-free diet, and 96% of them are brand-loyal. With so many gluten-intolerant or celiac people with the necessity to eat out safely and the fact that they often choose the restaurant due to their dietary restrictions when they eat out with gluten-eating friends, relatives, and associates, restaurants with gluten-free options are sure to attract increased patronage.
GFRAF represents the type of pro-active GF advocacy organization and goes the extra mile by furthering the interests of businesses who want to better service their celiac patrons. Whether you work in the restaurant business or you’re a celiac patient looking for a GF-friendly restaurant, glutenfreerestaurants.org is the place for you.
Miranda Jade Turbin
Gluten Free Restaurants: How does GFRAP Work? http://www.glutenfreerestaurants.org/about.php
From our home to yours, Tina Turbin.