The nonprofit Gluten Intolerance Group’s (GIG) Gluten-Free Food Service (GFFS) program has launched the GFFS Coaching Program, an initiative designed to provide onsite guidance to restaurants going through the GFFS Gluten Free Safe Spots Validation program. GFFS “Coaches” are knowledgeable individuals in the gluten-free community committed to helping their local restaurants better serve patrons who are living gluten-free. Becoming a GFFS Gluten Free Safe Spot gives gluten-free diners reassurance they have selected restaurants that follow safe processes and procedures when claiming to offer gluten-free meals.
A December 2020 survey commissioned by GIG revealed that 78% of gluten-free consumers said the fear of dining out is one of the greatest challenges they face. Additionally, there is a growing consumer base demanding more gluten-free options from their favorite restaurants. Restaurants that are designated GFFS Validated Gluten-Free Safe Spots are well-trusted by gluten-free diners who often fear eating out due to the risk of cross-contact from gluten-containing foods, as even trace amounts of gluten can cause health problems.
GFFS, established in 2009, validates participating establishments, from restaurants to college dining, senior living and more. GFFS visits locations in-person during on-site audits to ensure they follow best practices for gluten-free food safety and ensure high-quality staff training. GFFS is currently working with more than 350 active validated food establishments globally, including both independent and major restaurant chains.
All GFFS coaches will have experience with gluten intolerance or be a knowledgeable health professional. The GFFS Coaching Program provides video training, written materials, role-playing and interactive sessions, ensuring participating coaches are trained on proper policies and procedures restaurants need to be validated gluten-free.
“GFFS is excited to continue its dedication to the gluten-free community and the restaurants who serve them with a program that will help expand the availability of safe gluten-free dining establishments,” says Lindsey Yeakle, GFFS program manager, food safety. “For food establishments, our Coaching Program will provide the support needed to become a Validated Gluten Free Safe Spot, which has been proven to draw trusted loyal customers and grow business.”