When Heather Gannon’s daughter, Rachel, was diagnosed with allergies to gluten and diary, it came as a shock. Her family quickly discovered how expensive allergen-free foods could be, so Gannon launched the Rachel Way in 2015 in Plymouth Meeting. It’s one of the only gluten- and dairy-free food pantries in the country and helps about 1,000 people a year.
1. Stranger Things. “We’ve watched it over and over numerous times.”
2. Jules Thin Crust gluten-free pizza. “It’s a great safe place I can take my daughter.”
3. Breakfast at Tiffany’s. “I love the old Audrey Hepburn movies.”
4. Philadelphia Flyers. “We’re huge fans.”
5. Coldplay. “I listen to their second album a lot—A Rush of Blood to the Head.”
MLT: Why was it important to create a gluten free and dairy free pantry in this region?
HG: There’s nothing like this. When I opened, I believe there was one other gluten free pantry in the country. We started thinking how expensive these foods were and if something happened—illness, job [loss], how would we feed our daughter? It’s the reality nowadays. I just don’t know what you would do. I felt very strongly that this was something I needed to do.
MLT: What made you want to become a certified health coach?
HG: I just wanted to be able to help people get a better grasp and handle on it. When people come into the pantry, I am able to guide them a little bit to certain things that work for us. I’m not a doctor, but at least I have a little understanding from living with it.
MLT: What’s the most satisfying part of your work?
HG: We feel the pinch and we know the struggle, and it’s so great to have a community of people that are going through the same thing, and that’s why we started kids’ cooking classes, gluten-free classes for kids, so that they can get together and feel the support and talk about places that they can go eat. It’s a really wonderful community that’s come together.
MLT: What are some of your goals for the future?
HG: We are definitely expanding. We now distribute well over 1,500 pounds of food a month. My dream is to have a mobile truck. We have people that live in the next town over that take a bus or can’t get to us because they don’t have a car. I would love to have a mobile pantry that we could drive all over the area to distribute food to people who need it.