Halloween is right around the corner and I’m finalizing my game plan for celebrating. While I love to bring my own safe candy to parties that I attend (we’re talking nut-free, gluten-free, and dairy-free), Halloween can provoke a bit of anxiety as it’s a holiday centered around food, most of which is usually not safe for me and my husband to consume due to the enormous amount of candy containing life-threatening allergens.
When I talk about food allergies to others, a question that comes up again and again is if there’s a cure for food allergies. Sadly, there currently isn’t a cure, however I was excited to learn about the non-profit E.A.T. (End Allergies Together), which is the only independent organization solely focused on raising money for a cure. 100% of their focus is on raising money for food allergy research.
Food Allergy Awareness Week 2016 is in full swing, and each night landmark buildings across America will be lit up in teal in order to raise awareness about food allergies. Scheduled lightings include The Empire State Building in NYC, Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, Terminal Tower in Cleveland, Peace Bridge in Buffalo, Pacific Science Center in Seattle, Niagara Falls, The Zakim Bridge in Boston, and more! A large majority of these buildings have been turned teal as a result of the work of the grassroots organization Turn it Teal.
Food Allergy Awareness Week kicks off on Sunday, May 8th with the theme React with Respect. As I began thinking about this theme, it reminded me that respect ultimately requires understanding. I feel incredibly strongly that there isnâ€™t enough knowledge or education about what it means to have and live with a food allergy. Did you know that a food allergy reaction sends someone to the ER every three minutes? Did you also know that more than 15 Million Americans have a food allergy, and the rate of food allergies has increased 50% among children since 1997?
A few months ago I discovered Nutley the Nut-Free Squirrel and fell in love with the sweet tale of a squirrel allergic to nuts who doesn’t let his nut allergy get him down. The book was written by Stephanie Sorkin, who is also the mother of three daughters with food allergies, and 100% of profits from book sales will be donated to FARE (Food Allergy Research & Education). Amazing!
Picture this: you don’t have enough money to purchase food, something that is vital to keep you alive. You have to rely on government assistance, however as a result of your food allergies you’re unable to eat any of the food given to you through the program. While you are thankful for the support, you continue to go hungry in fear of eating something that will make you extremely sick, or worst case scenario could lead to your death. For many living in poverty, this is their reality. The majority of the food staples provided through the WIC federal nutrition plan lack options for those with allergy-friendly choices, leaving those with serious food allergies with only a few items they can safely eat.