Celiac Support Association

The History of the Celiac Support Association / Celiac Sprue Association / Midwestern Celiac Sprue Association


The Celiac Support Association is a worldwide, nonprofit membership organization dedicated to helping individuals with celiac disease, dermatitis herpetiformis, gluten ataxia and gluten-induced sensitivity through support, education and research.


Pat Murphy Garst of Des Moines, Iowa was diagnosed with celiac disease in December of 1977. In her search for information, she developed one of the first Gluten-Free Cookbooks.  She began by contacting everyone that had purchased her cookbook, created for individuals and families following a celiac disease diet. Twelve individuals responded and together donated $75 to create the Midwest Celiac Association (MCSA). The first official meeting was held in January, 1978 and by the end of February of the same year, MCSA served members in 11 states. Pat Garst was elected the first president of the organization.

Lifeline, the MCSA quarterly newsletter, was officially named in a contest by members in 1981. From the Lifeline publications, the creation of the CSA Gluten-Free Product Listing evolved. The first annual CSA educational conference was held in October of 1978. Members representing 127 families from 23 states attended the first conference.

In 1984, MCSA drafted bylaws to create the Celiac Support Association/United States of America (CSA/USA), using the MCSA membership and assets. On January 30, 1985, MCSA officially incorporated into the Celiac Support Association/United States of America, Inc. Regional Directors and Members-At-Large, representing six regions, were elected. CSA chapters were established, area Resource Units were approved and medical and dietitian advisors were appointed. That same year CSA/USA was designated as an IRS 501 (c ) (3) charity. A new IRS Determination Letter was issued in 2002 with “Revised Articles of Incorporation.”

In 2004, CSA developed a gluten-free product certification program.  Working with individual company partners, the CSA registered trademark assures the consumer confidence that the trademarked product is free of wheat, barley, rye and common oats (WBRO). After the effective date of  the  FDA gluten-free definition, CSA added an Innovative Category for foods specially processed to be gluten-free.  

On August 19, 2004, a foundation was officially established, A World Celiac Community Foundation, Inc. AWCC Foundation aids and assists the CSA mission, activities and membership. The AWCC Foundation also promotes and encourages the support of the organization through financial contributions.  Separate volunteer officers serve the work of the AWCC Foundation.


CSA has memberships worldwide and sponsors Chapters and Resource Units across the United States, serving as the largest non-profit information and referral organization representing the celiac community in the United States. The organization employs an executive director and staff, but is also served by a dedicated force of CSA volunteer officers, board members and committee members across the United States. Members voted to use Celiac Support Association and drop the often confusing word Sprue from Celiac Support Association.


In fulfilling its mission of service, CSA provides new patient support through consultation by phone, website and email. The association publishes and distributes the newest scientific information relating to celiac disease, provide the latest research data and publish annually “The CSA Gluten-Free Product Listing.” A complete informational website is maintained by CSA, along with organizing an annual national educational conference. CSA is a voice in Washington, D.C., participating in the Digestive Disease National Coalition (DDNC), working with national representatives and creating a visible awareness to other Washington advocacy groups, promoting the CSA mission “Promoting a Gluten-Free You.” 


CSA supports individuals diagnosed with celiac disease or dermatitis herpetiformis, gluten ataxia and gluten-induced sensitivity through support, education and research.. CSA searchs for avenues to assist “Promoting a Gluten-free you."

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