According to Food Allergy Research and Education (FARE), one in every thirteen children has a food allergy. They say that’s an average of two kids per classroom. Every three minutes, a food allergy reaction sends someone to the emergency room. Food allergies impact A LOT of people with very serious consequences.
Food Allergy Awareness Week shines a light on this and so much more.
My son, Ollie, is almost three and is allergic to peanuts, tree nuts, milk, eggs, sunflower, sesame, and all legumes except soy. My husband and I have no food allergies, and we have NO idea why Ollie does. I can get into my suspicions, but that’s honestly a post of its own. Before Ollie, food allergies never crossed my mind. They didn’t have to. I’m in no way wanting to make you feel bad if that’s where you’re at right now too.
Food Allergy Awareness Week is all about spreading education and awareness about food allergies, so that’s all I’d love to do. This year, Food Allergy Awareness Week is May 13th to 19th and I’m here to share what’s happening locally.
Starting at the state level, Governor Scott’s office confirmed there will be an official proclamation for Food Allergy Awareness Week. You can find it here. If you were at my house a few weeks ago, you would have witnessed an insane happy dance when I got the call from his office that the proclamation request was accepted. If you’re curious to see how many states have official proclamations, check our FARE’s 2018 Food Allergy Awareness Week Proclamations map. Know someone in one of the gray states? Ask them to submit a request to their elected official! FARE’s website makes it easy. Official proclamations show a commitment to food allergies; helping elected officials understand the serious nature of food allergies and the importance of legislation that supports the food allergy community.
There is a fundraiser for FARE happening at Chipotle on Tuesday, May 15th from 4PM to 8PM. Chipotle, or “polt-lay” if you ask my toddler, is the ONLY restaurant Ollie has ever eaten out at. I am thrilled they are supporting this cause.
Many local libraries will have a Food Allergy Awareness Week story time.
I will be at two story times: Essex Free Library on Thursday, May 17th at 10:30 AM and Brownell Library on Saturday, May 19th at 10:00 AM. During each story time, we will read at least one book that introduces children to the concept of food allergies in a fun and relatable way. The books lead to conversations about how people eat differently and how to keep friends safe. We have educational coloring activities as well as bookmarks and stickers to distribute. There’s a rumor we might sing some Kyle Dine, too! Don’t worry, I won’t be the one leading the singing. Check in with your favorite librarian to see if they’re interested in hosting a Food Allergy Awareness Week story time or see if you can read a book about food allergies to your child’s class. Let me know if you need help picking one out.
These storytimes are an incredibly important way to address food allergy bullying. According to No Appetite for Bullying, a staggering 82% of parents of children with food allergies believe their child is bullied.
The media hasn’t been helping. Peter Rabbit made light of this with a scene in which a character had his allergen thrown at him resulting in an allergic reaction where he needed to use an EpiPen. Let me tell you, food allergy bullying is REAL. A group of teenage girls recently got in trouble for giving a pineapple tainted high five to a classmate with a known pineapple allergy. There was a hazing incident at a fraternity that involved a peanut allergic college student having peanut butter smeared on his face. These acts could have had deadly consequences. They did for a 13 year-old-boy who had cheese flung into his mouth and died despite receiving treatment.
This is any parent’s worst nightmare, and part of why Food Allergy Awareness Week is incredibly important to me. Want to know one way to combat food allergy bullying? Start a positive conversation at a very early age. Kids are incredibly matter-of-fact if taught properly. My son’s two cousins, age four and two, are the first to tell you we don’t share food with Ollie and we wash our hands after eating so we don’t contaminate shared toys. I’m always awed by the level of understanding and compassion kids show when given the chance.
The last major event I’d like to share with you is at Healthy Living on Saturday, May 19th from 11:30 AM to 1:30 PM.
Stop by while you’re shopping to learn all about food allergies and sample some delicious allergy-friendly treats. Healthy Living is going to feature some allergy-friendly snack options. This is a great chance for a non-allergy family to try new snacks to bring to a peanut free classroom. Healthy Living is one of the many places we shop as a food-allergy family. I frequent an average of five grocery stores each week. Our son’s diet is inherently high in fruits and vegetables, so I stock up on organic produce every week at Costco. Sometimes twice a week; I need to prepare my budget for his teenage years. I’m so excited for the pick-your-own season and the chance to stock up on farm fresh VT berries soon too! Natural Provisions in Williston is the only store in the entire state where we’ve found milk allergy-safe shredded cheese.
Want to do something for Food Allergy Awareness Week? It’s certainly not too late!
If your child is in school or daycare, ask if you can read a book and lead a discussion. Thursday, May 17th is designated #TealTakeover. Make sure your closet is stocked with teal so that you can show your support. If you have any questions or need any help, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me. I’m incredibly passionate about spreading food allergy awareness and am more than happy to help! On a similar note, if you have questions about food allergies in general, please ask them here. I’ve got an, “Ask the Food Allergy Mom,” post in the works and I’d love to answer your questions.