“It saves us a day of work every week”
The Dutch Celiac Association (NCV) is perhaps the most fun patient association in the Netherlands, with nearly 19,000 members and over 200 volunteers. In the bureau organization behind it, eleven employees go all out to support existing and new members and the countless volunteers.
The association makes life on a gluten-free diet more pleasant and easier by sharing knowledge, licensing the Crossed Grain quality mark and organizing various events. It also stimulates scientific research into celiac disease and related disorders.
“Our association is growing rapidly,” NCV director Floris van Overveld says. He explains that celiac disease can manifest itself very differently in people. At its core, the immune system reacts hostilely to gluten – a protein from grains – and thereby affects the own body.
“Clinically, this can manifest itself in various ways, such as digestive symptoms, obesity, underweight, as well as fatigue and depression.” This diversity means that celiac disease is not always diagnosed, or that it takes a long time to diagnose. “Yet there is an upward trend,” Van Overveld sees. “There is increasing attention for the disease. We also know more and more, which makes general practitioners and other specialists diagnose celiac disease faster.”
“The Procurios people understand associations very well; they understand what you want.”
Crossed Grain quality mark
The NCV originated in 1974 as a typical for/by association. “And in fact it still is,” Van Overveld says. “Our volunteer base is very large, everyone helps each other. For example, we organize children’s camps and baking workshops, but also markets where suppliers offer their gluten-free products. We hold information meetings and did an extensive gluten-free buffet at Christmas last year.”
All those events have in common that they revolve around food. “That makes our association perhaps the most fun in the Netherlands,” the NCV director smiles. “Because with us it’s always about food.” What also makes the association unique, is that it’s a Benelux licensee of the Crossed Grain label. Producers and suppliers of gluten-free products can apply to the association for a license to use the quality mark for their products. The NCV then arranges for an external audit, and if the supplier meets the requirements, the association provides the license.