Strengthening the Food Allergy Community
by Debby Beerman, SAFE + FAIR Brand Ambassador
Food. At its core, it provides sustenance for our bodies. But in today's modern world, it is so much more. From birthdays to business meetings, from playdates to parties, so much of our lives revolve around food.
I never realized this more than when my oldest was diagnosed with life-threatening food allergies to dairy, soy, egg, peanut, tree nut and sesame. The care-free life we led (with regard to food) was over, and a new day had begun.
In a Facebook group I belong to, one woman asked for responses to the phrase, "You know you're a food allergy mom when..." These responses give the best examples of what this new life entails. Here's what some moms said:
- you have a freezer full of homemade cupcakes and cookies so your child can participate in every celebration
- you're too scared to hire a babysitter
- you wait all week to run errands by yourself so you can buy a Reese's and then you end up eating it outside your car (so as not to contaminate it) and then wash your hands and mouth out 87 million times before going back home
- you can't leave your purse/diaper bag in the car EVER because it has your Epi-pen in it and it's either -40 F or 95 F
- you pick hotels based on how close they are to a grocery store and a hospital
- you bring a cooler bag with you EVERYWHERE you go
- you host every holiday because no one else would be able to make sure the food is safe for your child to eat
And the list goes on and on.
When my son was first diagnosed 10 years ago, the percentage of children with life-threatening food allergies was much lower. While it's unfortunate that this is a growing problem, there is strength in numbers, and the food allergy community is a strong, supportive and communicative group. As parents, we have no choice but to constantly talk about our children's allergies in order to keep them safe: to the counselors, babysitters, grandparents, teachers, friends--everyone has to know what they can't eat and how to administer epinephrine in case of an emergency.
When choosing food to give food allergic kids, there's nothing more important than a clean, readable label. This is why I love SAFE + FAIR so much. They value the importance of transparency in their labeling. I love being a Brand Ambassador for SAFE + FAIR because I believe in their mission and their effort to provide cookies and snacks that are safe for children with life-threatening nut allergies. Plus, my kids love them!
To follow Debby’s family’s food allergy journey, follow her on Instagram at @clean.label.mom.
The SAFE + FAIR Brand Ambassador Team (L-R): Debby Beerman, Head of Marketing Activation Christina Byrnes, Sarah Datz, Meg Macaux and Lauren Zylstra.