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Natick Family Creates New Gluten-Free Food Pantry

The Hanns start Pierce's Pantry, a gluten-free food bank in Medway that opens Jan. 22.

Shown are, from left: Grace Hann, Elizabeth Hann, Sophie Hall, Sienna Proctor, Alanna Shevory. Courtesy photo
Shown are, from left: Grace Hann, Elizabeth Hann, Sophie Hall, Sienna Proctor, Alanna Shevory. Courtesy photo

It's a question you may not expect from a 7-year-old.

But it's one that will hopefully help many in need.

Natick mother Susannah Hann can't help but get a little emotional when explaining how her daughter, Elizabeth, asked how could she help people who can't eat gluten. She wanted to help people like herself, who live with Celiac disease, an autoimmune digestive disease that damages the small intestine and interferes with absorption of nutrients from food.

"I wanted to do a community service project with my 5- and 7-year-old daughters," Hann said. "As we began collecting foods, Elizabeth noticed that the foods we were collecting were all wheat - crackers, pasta, noodle soup, etc. My daughters and I cannot have gluten due to medical issues. She was concerned that kids like her wouldn’t be able to get food at a food pantry."

About a week later, the Hanns met a family with similary concerns and found out they started a Pierce's Pantry, a gluten-free food bank. 

"My daughter organized her first-grade class at Riverbend Montessori School to collect food for the pantry," Hann said. "The kids made signs, decorated a collection box, made a flier and went to each class to present the project. They collected nine bags of food."

The Hanns then teamed up with fellow mom Nicole Olsen and her four kids to create the "Gluten Free Tribe" to launch a new Pierce's Pantry location in Medway at the Medway Village Church food bank. 

Other collections took place at the Bacon Free Library and Twist Bakery and Café in Millis (a gluten-free restaurant).  

On Jan. 18, the Tribe set up the pantry and planned to launch it on Jan. 22. 

Pierce's Pantry is open Wednesdays from 3:45-4:45 p.m. 

To make donations, people can drop off food at the Medway Village Church at 170 Village St., or email SusannahHann@gmail.com.

"(As a parent), it’s unbelievable," Hann said. "I was teary while setting up the pantry. It’s amazing, because for me, I didn’t go there. (Elizabeth) took it so many steps further." 

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