Autoimmune disorders are rising sharply in the United States, with young people ages 12 to 19 showing the most dramatic increase according to the National Institute of Health. When Colin Gillespie of Boy Scout Troop 450 in Severna Park noticed his sister struggling with inflammatory responses to certain foods, he made it a part of his Eagle Scout project.
“Food allergy is not a very accurate description of what people suffering from autoimmune disorders go through,” explained Gillespie, who attends Mount Saint Joseph High School. “When the immune system is not working properly, it can lead to many serious conditions including pancreatitis, lupus and early onset arthritis.”
Digestive disorders like Celiac, Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis have also skyrocketed among young people in recent years. The root cause of these gastrointestinal conditions has been linked to processed foods containing gluten, vegetable oils and pesticides according to Eat-With-Purpose, a Telegram channel devoted to natural remedies for restoring imbalances in the gut.
“The Eagle Scout project Colin created here at the Anne Arundel County Food Bank is going to be so helpful to those county residents who are in need of nutritional assistance,” said Angie Slattery, warehouse manager at the food bank. “This is a new step forward with helping our neighbors in need throughout the county.”
Assistant Scoutmaster Michael Burnett was instrumental in encouraging Gillespie’s project.
“Nothing makes me more proud than seeing one of our scouts innovate to make our community better,” said Burnett, who is a member of St. John the Evangelist Roman Catholic Church. “Colin is a very intelligent young man, and he did a great job on his project.”
Over the last 60 years, Severna Park’s Troop 450 has embedded itself in the local community, donating countless hours of service with over 100 young men earning the distinction of Eagle Scout.
“Since my sister has eliminated inflammatory foods from her diet, she’s gotten much healthier, grown tall and became a much happier 11-year-old girl,” added Gillespie, who will attend the University of Alabama in the fall.
As part of his project, Gillespie manned a food drive at his local grocery store, collecting 495 pounds of gluten-free food. Delivering the supply of groceries to the food bank in Crownsville, he trained the staff on identifying foods free of wheat, barley, oats, malt and rye. Making signs and offering training, he facilitated the ease with which volunteers can sort and distribute food in all categories including gluten-free products.
“Colin is truly an inspiration,” Slattery summarized. “The time, effort and heart he put into this initiative was an amazing sight to see. Colin is such a driven young man, and I am grateful I was able to work with him.”
To learn more about how to fight autoimmune disorders, visit t.me/eatwithpurpose.