Nearly 32 million adults and children in the United States have food allergies. Even though food allergies have increased over the last few decades, many people still don’t understand allergic reactions and how serious they can be. Families managing food allergies often take a lot of precautions to avoid triggers and prepare to treat reactions if they occur. But the challenges of managing food allergies often go unnoticed.
Hearing stories directly from people who manage food allergies helps raise awareness about food allergies and helps more people understand the condition. Kids with Food Allergies (KFA), the food allergy division of the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA), recently teamed up with two patient advocates, Carter and Alexa, to raise awareness about food allergies and advocate for change on behalf of the food allergy community.
Their stories remind us that we can use our experiences to help other people living with food allergies have a better future.
Carter is a college sophomore. He doesn’t let his allergies to peanuts and tree nuts hold him back. When he was an eighth-grade student, Carter realized he could help make the lives of people managing food allergies better through policy. Since then, he has worked on two advocacy initiatives. He proposed and is working to help pass a law in Wisconsin to increase food allergy safety in restaurants. He is also working with AAFA to increase access to epinephrine auto-injectors on airplanes.
“I think my drive to push for food allergy advocacy is just for people in the food allergy community to feel safer, both from a health standpoint and a social standpoint,” Carter said. “I’m focused on pushing for policies that increase food allergy awareness and food allergy safety precautions, whether it be in restaurants or in the airport. But then also socially, creating a more inclusive environment for the food allergy community.”
Alexa is a college senior and patient advocate living with food allergies. She had a severe allergic reaction after eating a salad when on a plane a few years ago. She received very little support from the airline staff and was left alone to manage her reaction. This sparked a passion in Alexa to help raise awareness about the impacts of food allergies and advocate for federal laws that would improve access to epinephrine.
KFA provides tools and support to help people manage their food allergies. KFA’s online community is a great place for families managing food allergies to go for support and practical tips from others who understand their challenges. KFA's Safe Eats® Allergy-Friendly Recipe Collection is a useful tool to help people find recipes that are free of many major allergens. KFA also works with advocates, like Carter and Alexa, to advance policies that would protect the health and safety of people living with food allergies.
Like Alexa and Carter, you can make a difference for the food allergy community. Your gift will provide free, life-saving education and support for people living food allergies and their caregivers. Because of you, KFA can continue to provide community support and education while advocating for federal and state policies that protect people with food allergies and advancing patient-centered research.