As 2022 comes to an end, we wanted to reflect on another year of great advocacy efforts. We had another successful virtual fly-in to Capitol Hill. At Kids with Food Allergies (KFA), our top advocacy priorities continue to center on:
- Access to care, medicine, and coverage
- Food allergy labeling
- Healthy settings for people with food allergies
- Funding for federal programs that benefit people with food allergies
Healthy Child Care Centers
Safe and healthy environments in child care settings are essential for our youngest children with food allergies. But major gaps in child care protections for children with food allergies exist in the United States.
To help address these gaps, the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA), KFA’s parent organization, partnered with the Elijah-Alavi Foundation (EAF) to publish “Child Care Policies for Food Allergy: Elijah’s Law Report for U.S. States and Territories” this year. The report includes two parts:
- Review of state-level policies protecting children with food allergies in child care programs
- Toolkit for advocates to support Elijah’s Law in new states
Elijah’s Law is a bill named in memory of Elijah Silvera. On Nov. 3, 2017, 3-year-old Elijah died after a severe allergic reaction called anaphylaxis at his child care center.
Elijah’s Law was first passed in New York and Illinois. This year, AAFA and EAF focused advocacy efforts in Virginia and California. Governor Glenn Youngkin signed Elijah’s Law into law in Virginia on April 11, 2022. California’s Elijah’s Law also made progress this year but fell short of being signed into law. AAFA and EAF plan to reengage in California and beyond next year!
Food Allergy Policy Recommendations Sent to White House
This year the White House hosted the Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health with the goal of ending hunger and reducing diet-related diseases. KFA took the opportunity to share our top food policy recommendations:
- Require allergen information on foods sold online
- Require insurance to cover elemental or amino acid formulas
- Increase funding for food allergy research
- Improve food ingredient label standards and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) enforcement of those standards
- Improve federal food assistance programs to be inclusive of food allergies
- Make epinephrine more affordable and easier to get
- Require allergen information on restaurant menus
This year we asked for your help in advocating for the Medical Nutrition Equity Act (MNEA). The bill would require public and private insurance to cover medical foods, vitamins, and individual amino acids. We want to thank the more than 500 KFA community members who contacted their senators and Congresspeople to support the bill. Though the bill did not pass this year, we will renew our efforts in the next Congress and build upon the list of over 120 supporters in the House and Senate. Look out for another Advocacy Action Alert in 2023!
Food Allergy Safety on Planes
In October, Southwest Airlines® stopped allowing passengers with peanut allergy to preboard. AAFA immediately voiced opposition to this boarding policy change and began contacting the Department of Transportation (DOT) and other administration officials.
The Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) protects airline passengers with disabilities. Severe food allergy is a disability under the ACAA, and airlines are required to offer preboarding to passengers with a disability.
After filing a formal complaint with other food allergy advocates against Southwest Airlines® to the DOT, the airline reversed its policy. We are pleased Southwest is once again allowing passengers with severe nut allergy to preboard. But there is more work to be done. Southwest’s response to allow passengers with severe nut allergy to preboard continues to ignore other severe food allergies that are protected under the ACAA.
Stay tuned for further updates on this issue. Please comment below or contact us if you experience preboarding issues on Southwest with peanut, tree nut, or any other food allergies.
Looking Toward 2023
KFA is looking forward to next year and continuing to progress our legislative and regulatory priorities. There is a new Congress to engage and new opportunities to advocate for the food allergy community.
Early in 2023, look out for updates on:
- Sesame allergen labeling implementation
- Online food allergen labeling
- Precautionary allergen labeling
- Allergy labeling for alcohol
- Contents of emergency medical kits on airplanes
You can help us by becoming an advocate and signing up for our Advocacy Action Alerts. This will keep you informed of our advocacy work and let you know when we need your advocacy support.
Your year-end gift to KFA will give us momentum going into 2023 so we can continue to educate and provide support to families, advocate for patient rights, and fund critical patient-centered research. KFA is committed to a better 2023 for people with food allergies. Will you join us?