STATE COLLEGE – The first-ever Central PA Gluten Free Expo will take place Nov. 10 at the Ramada Hotel and Conference Center, 1450 S. Atherton St., State College.
The State College Celiac Support Group will host the event, which will include more than 35 area and national exhibitors, educational presentations, door prizes and samples. The expo will be open from 12 p.m. until 5:30 p.m.
A tote bag with offers and gluten free samples will be given to the first 500 attendees that day. Advance tickets are currently on sale for $5 at area locations, or at the door for $8. Youth 16 and under are free.
Thirty percent of adults are interested in avoiding or cutting down on gluten in their diets, according to a 2013 survey from the NPD Group consumer research firm. The gluten-free food market is now a $4.2 billion industry, and interest has extended to the restaurant industry as well.
NPD found that 200 million restaurant visits in the past year included a gluten-free order. Studies have shown that about one in 133 members of the United States population have celiac disease, a condition which requires a gluten-free lifestyle.
The purpose of the expo is to show people the variety of gluten free food and supportive resources that are available to them, said Heidi Watson, president of the State College Celiac Support Group. It will show those who have celiac disease how to live well and be healthy, she said. Confirmed vendors who will be sampling gluten free products include national companies Udi’s, Kinnikinnick and Namaste Foods.
At 1 p.m., Keynote Speaker Alice Bast, founder and president of the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (www.celiaccentral.org), will discuss taking an active approach to personal health. The National Foundation for Celiac Awareness is dedicated to improving the quality of life for those with celiac disease through education, empowerment, advocacy and research, Bast said.
“The expo is a great opportunity to bring the work we’re doing to central Pennsylvania,” Bast said. “I’m hoping people walk away knowing they can come to us as a one stop resource and that they don’t have to be afraid to eat.”
Seminars will also include speaker Anne Roland Lee, director of nutritional services at Dr. Schar USA and a Celiac 101 Session presented by the State College Celiac Support Group.