Including the input derived from our community is one of the best ways to know that we are making the right difference for them in this moment and into the future.
Our leadership team at the Gluten Intolerance Group (GIG) approaches our goals and decisions from the heart, first and foremost. Our mission as an organization is to support the gluten-free community, making their lives easier in every program we offer and service we perform. Many, if not all, of our Executive Team and Board of Directors are impacted by gluten sensitivities in one form or another. We are a part of our community, not just a supporter of it. This is the driving force behind the integrity of the certification programs all the way to the partnership with GIG Cares to support those with food insecurities. We believe in teaching our youth to advocate for themselves and to support other generations too. Including the input derived from our community is one of the best ways to know that we are making the right difference for them in this moment and into the future.
Meeting the Needs of Gluten-Free Consumers
GIG and its partner, GIG Cares, are action-oriented organizations. We are unique in that we ensure the basic needs of the gluten-free consumer are met—mind, body, and spirit. While other non-profits in the gluten-free community focus on finding a cure for celiac disease, GIG and GIG Cares are actively helping people living with celiac disease, other gluten-related conditions, and those who choose a gluten-free lifestyle, so that they may live happily and healthily in the here and now.
Making a Difference
As non-profit organizations, consumer advocacy is always in the forefront. Whether it be through sending children to a
gluten-free camp, sending boxes of gluten-free food to families in need, lending an ear to a parent in distress, or educating a food manufacturer or food service on safe production practices, it is all for the greater good. This impact is not only for our organization, but also for the thousands of brands that partner with us for Gluten-Free Certification Organization (GFCO) certification and Gluten-Free Food Service (GFFS) validation, as all proceeds are invested in the community we serve. GIG also partners with other community organizations and advocacy groups to influence positive changes that truly make a difference in the lives of gluten-free consumers.
GIG’s focus is on the greater good, and that includes a family-first mentality for our employees, volunteers, and our community at large, in everything we do.
Continuing to Grow
There is always something new and exciting happening at GIG! In the past year, we have seen the certification of more than 2,000 new products, and nine hospitals earned our validation. Hundreds of people joined our virtual education events featuring the foremost experts in the field of gluten- related disorders, and dozens of gluten-free kids enjoyed our gluten-free weeks at camp, while we taught teenagers how to cook at the Culinary
Institute of America! The development we are most proud of was the launch of GIG Cares’
Cutting Cost Program, which now provides boxes of much-needed GFCO-certified food to hundreds of families facing food insecurity.
Navigating the pandemic and all of the social topics that have arisen in the last two years has been one of the most challenging times for any business owner or upper-level executive. GIG is no exception. It has been an interesting challenge to continue providing our certification services while the world was shut down, then to deal with the new health-related requirements as we adjusted to our lives post-shutdowns, while never compromising the integrity of our programs. Amidst all of the noise of social topics and pandemic responses, crop shortages and so on, we found that we want to be an organization that supports everyone without ostracizing others. I think the best way to show that support is by continuing to offer programs to meet people where they are today—living with an incurable medical condition. We do this with initiatives like supporting the Cutting Costs program, recognizing those who are making a difference in their communities, and always being a positive voice among what can sometimes feel like a negative scenario. If we do one thing as humans, it should be to leave this world better than we found it. For GIG, that means continuing to recognize what is needed to support and serve the gluten free community in this moment, through all of the struggles we still face daily.
Words of Wisdom
As we look forward to the next few years, we see rising costs and agricultural shortages continuing. Staying closely in tune with the heartbeat of our community and industry is vital. I think even more so, we need to be able to count on one another. Communication and collaboration are the keys to success. Clients can have their needs met by many different companies, but the way we leave them feeling, our customer service, is what creates loyal customers.
The Gluten Intolerance Group is on a mission to make life easier for everyone living gluten-free because we envision a world where everyone living gluten-free has access to the products, services, and resources they need to thrive. GIG serves a global audience through education, food safety, and support efforts. Notably, GIG’s GFCO certification program is the global leader in gluten-free certification, certifying 60,000 products in more than 50 countries to be safely gluten-free. GIG’s Gluten Free Food Services program validates food service establishments (from restaurants to hospitals) throughout North America. It is expanding internationally, to ensure gluten-free food is accessible when dining out. GIG’s educational outreach serves individuals, families, the medical community, and the food industry by heightening awareness about gluten-related disorders and the nuisances of the diet.
Additionally, GIG operates more than 80 support groups (in the U.S. and internationally) and a robust kids’ program, to ensure that everyone feels supported at their stage of the gluten-free journey! And just six months into its launch, GIG’s partner organization, GIG Cares—with its aim to cultivate positive connections in the gluten-free community through initiatives that includes advocacy, mentorship, and a program that addresses food insecurity,—is already making its mark by providing services in 42 states!
All About GIG
The Gluten Intolerance Group of North America (GIG) is a non-profit organization that is a change-maker in the gluten-free community. Founded in 1974 by Elaine Hartsook, RD, PHD, GIG was the first organization advocating for the needs of persons with celiac disease. Today, under the leadership of Cynthia Kupper Kelly, CEO, and Channon Quinn, COO, the Gluten Intolerance Group has broadened its efforts and makes a global impact through its education and food safety programs (including GFCO, the largest, most trusted certifier of gluten-free foods) as well as its support services. Recently, GIG teamed up with a small non-profit that was Cutting Costs of Celiacs in its Wisconsin community. What followed was the establishment of a new organization: GIG CARES. Quinn, who splits her time between GIG and her role as CEO of GIG Cares, is actively addressing the challenge of food insecurity in the gluten-free community by sending boxes of GFCO-certified food to families in need.