FARE-CDC Collaboration Results in Resources for Schools

cdccoverThe Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) published “Voluntary Guidelines for Managing Food Allergies in Schools and Early Care Education Programs” last fall. The information in these guidelines helps schools to avoid, recognize, and treat allergic reactions while ensuring that students with food allergies are safely included in all school activities. FARE has created several useful resources based on the CDC guidelines to help increase awareness around food allergy management in schools.

We encourage you to review, download and bring the following documents to your child’s school:

Keeping Children with Food Allergies Safe at School

cdcthumb1Every student at risk for anaphylaxis should have an individual written accommodation plan. A child’s accommodation plan (Section 504 or other written plan) has two parts: the accommodations or services needed for the child to be safely included in activities, and the emergency care plan (such as FARE’s Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Emergency Care Plan). Download this one-page handout of important recommendations from the CDC national guidelines.

Recommended Practices for Reducing the Risk of Exposure to Food Allergens and Responding to Food Allergies in Schools and Early Childhood Education Programs

cdcthumb2On pages 41–43 of the CDC guidelines are recommended practices and accommodations to help ensure that children with food allergies are safely included in school. Download this one-page handout of important recommendations from the CDC national guidelines. Recommendations for the Classroom, Cafeteria, Transportation, School Events, and Physical Education and Recess include practices such as:

  • Avoid the use of identified allergens in class projects, parties, holidays and celebrations, arts, crafts, science experiments, cooking, snacks, or rewards;
  • Use non-food incentives for prizes, gifts and awards;
  • Do not exclude children with food allergies from field trips, events, or extra-curricular activities;
  • Encourage hand washing before and after handling or consuming food; and
  • Have rapid access to epinephrine auto-injectors and train staff to use them.

Actions for School Boards and School District Administrators

Data from CDC’s 2006 School Health Policies and Programs Study indicated that only slightly more than 40 percent of school districts have model food allergy policies. District policies are implemented with the support of board members, the district superintendent, and district-level staff members.

cdcthumb3School Boards can adopt written policies that direct and support clear, consistent, and effective practices for managing the risk of food allergies and responding to food allergy emergencies. A comprehensive and uniform set of district policies can promote consistency of priorities, actions, and options for managing food allergies across the district to avoid confusion and haphazard responses, as well as ensuring that practices are aligned with federal and state laws, including regulations, and policies, as well as other established school policies. Download this handout.

cdcthumb4School District Administrators can provide direct assistance to schools to help them meet the needs of students with food allergies, especially when the school does not have key staff, such as a doctor or a full-time registered nurse. Effective management of food allergies in schools requires the participation of many people. Administrators can help ensure that policies and procedures are established in order to identify students with food allergies, and that all school staff understand the school’s responsibilities under the federal laws and regulations that govern food allergies at school including, but not limited to: Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), and the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA). Download this document.

For additional information, please visit: http://www.foodallergy.org/cdc

This article was originally published in the Summer 2014 issue of FARE’s Food Allergy News. Read more of the newsletter here.

Find Your Food Allergy BFFs

walkwomenYou have friends you exercise with, go on vacation with, and spend nights out with, but do you have friends who are also managing food allergies? Whether you branch out and make new “food allergy friends” in your town, or you connect online, it’s beneficial to build your support network. Having someone to talk to about challenges you’re facing, swap recipes, and trade tips is invaluable in the day-to-day management of food allergies.

Here are a few ways you can start building or expand your group of food allergy friends and confidants:

  • FARE Events

While all of FARE’s information and resources are available for free online, we know the value of gathering the food allergy community in person. That’s why we host events across the country to bring people together to learn, connect, and raise funds to support our mission. Here are just a few examples of the types of FARE events you can attend with your family and friends:

FARE Walk for Food Allergy Events

FARE Walks for Food Allergy are family-friendly events taking place in more than 60 communities nationwide in 2014. Walks are a great chance to meet other families in your community who are managing food allergies, as well as raise funds for food allergy research, education, advocacy and awareness. Register for a Walk at www.foodallergywalk.org.

Teen Summit

  1. The 9th Annual Teen Summit is a 3-day event, being held November 7-9, 2014 at the Grand Hyatt in Washington, D.C., that gives teens living with food allergies a chance to meet with other teens from across the country. There is also a sibling and parent track for family members to share their experiences and learn from some of our great speakers. You can hear about teens’ experiences at the summit by reading page 11 of our Summer edition of Food Allergy News. Register at http://www.foodallergy.org/teensummit.

FARE National Food Allergy Conference

This annual conference gathers the country’s leading food allergy experts and members of the food allergy community together for a weekend of world-class programming. The 2015 conference is scheduled for May 16-17 in Long Beach, California and registration will open in winter of 2014. Learn more about the 2014 conference at http://www.foodallergy.org/conference.

  • Support Groups

Online and in-person support groups can provide advice specific to your community, such as suggestions for local restaurants, products, and events.

Search FARE’s support group directory for a group in your area.

  • Blogs

Even if you’ve never met your favorite bloggers, you feel like you know them after learning so much about their lives online, and reading their blogs can start to feel like checking in with old friends. Food allergy bloggers are a great source for laughs, recipes, news and opinions about hot topics in food allergies. We’ve listed just a few blogs covering different topic areas here to get you started, and we encourage you to share your favorite food allergy blogs in the comments section!

Research

Food Allergy Mom Doc

Food Allergy Sleuth

Advocacy

The Grateful Foodie

Allergic Girl

Food Allergy Buzz

Food Allergy Mama

Oh Mah Deehness!

Parenting

The Nut-Free Mom

The Food Allergy Mom

Mom Versus Food Allergy

Mothernova

Allergic Kid

Multiple Food Allergy Help

Cooking and Recipes

Making it Milk Free

Don’t Feed My Monkeys

Our Life as an Epi Family

CAFE (Celiac & Allergy Friendly Epicurian)

Food Allergy Feast

Cybele Pascal – The Allergy Friendly Cook

EBL Food Allergies

Nut Free Wok

Adults with Food Allergies

Adventures of an Allergic Foodie

Franny Cakes

The Diary of Ana Phylaxis

Teens with Food Allergies

Food Allergy Froggie

Teen FAAB

Miles with M.E.

Gluten Free and Allergy Friendly

Raising Jack with Celiac

Ginger Lemon Girl

Angela’s Kitchen

Do you have any favorite food allergy blogs? List them in the comments section!

However you choose to reach out and connect to others in the food allergy community – we encourage you to make the effort. Good friends are truly invaluable to have by your side as you’re managing the day-to-day of living with food allergies.

The DoD and Food Allergy Research

It may come as a surprise to many that the Department of Defense (DoD) funds medical research, including food allergy research. But, in fact, the Pentagon has a robust and unique medical research program that has funded grants to food
allergy research projects.

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The origins of the DoD medical research program dates back to the early 1990s when Congress anticipated a budget windfall following the disintegration of the Soviet Union. Congress decided to use some of the “peace dividend” for medical research. Furthermore, members of Congress specifically told DoD what disease research to fund, hence the name, “The Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program.” The program has had a number of specific line items for different kinds of cancer research as well Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and others. Over the years, however, demand from disease advocates became so great that Congress also created a subset program called the “Peer-reviewed Medical Research Program” that has a pot of funding to conduct research among a menu of diseases and conditions. Last year that funding stood at $200 million with more than 25 diseases eligible for research. Among them were food allergies.

How do they decide what research to fund? The decisions are based on the submissions by medical researchers. When grants applications are submitted in any of the disease types they are scored on the quality and structure of the proposal. In essence, the best applications win.

In contrast to research funded at the National Institutes of Health, the DoD medical research program has some unique features. First of all, because they are working with limited pools of money, the DoD program will fund bold experiments, or ‘high-risk, high-reward’ research projects rather than a more incremental approach favored by NIH. Consequently, the military program also does not necessarily need the preliminary data required by NIH. Another unique feature of the DoD program—that also differs from NIH—is the inclusion of consumer reviewers in their research panels. Individuals with the disease under study are asked to be part of the review panel that will evaluate the grant applications.

FARE has been active in leveraging this program to expand the resources available for food allergy research. On the front end, FARE has worked with Congressional supporters to ensure that food allergy research is an eligible disease under the Peer Reviewed Medical Research Program. After the program is funded, FARE was asked by the DoD to recommend candidates to be consumer advisors on the review panels. And finally, FARE rallies the food allergy research community to submit applications and increase the odds that more food allergy projects will have funding support.

This article was originally published in the Summer 2014 issue of FARE’s Food Allergy News. Read more of the newsletter here.

Northwestern Athletics Welcomes Families Managing Peanut and Tree Nut Allergies

Polisky_MikeA food allergy dad got the ball rolling with a phone call and one request: could Northwestern consider having a nut-free game so that his son could attend a game? Northwestern decided to not only grant this one request, but to do something that hasn’t been attempted by a college athletics program to date: go peanut and tree nut free for many games in multiple sports during the year, offering students and fans with nut allergies plenty of opportunities to attend a game and cheer on the Wildcats.

To learn more about what it took to go nut-free at Northwestern, FARE interviewed Mike Polisky, Deputy Director of Athletics – External Affairs at Northwestern Athletics. Download this flyer to view the game schedule..

1. Why did Northwestern decide to go “all in” this season?

It all started with a simple phone call last year. We were contacted by the father of a Northwestern student who is affected by these types of allergies. The student is a big sports fan, like so many, but he wouldn’t be able to attend a game at Ryan Field or Welsh-Ryan Arena because of those allergy concerns. The father wanted to know if there was a way for us to make that happen for his son. After doing our research and coming to a better understanding of the impact of tree nut and peanut allergies on tens of thousands of people who cannot participate, it made sense to take the next step.

We decided to break up our seasons to create more opportunities for families to attend Northwestern games in a safe environment. Ryan Field will be completely peanut and tree nut free for three football games and Welsh-Ryan Arena will be that same way for close to 30 events leading up to the Big Ten opener for the men’s basketball team.

2. What changes needed to be made in order to accommodate the change?

We had to undergo a systemic change from the top down in order to change the way we do things on game day. From Northwestern President Morton Schapiro, to Vice President for Athletics and Recreation, Jim Phillips, to our ushers and security personnel, to our concessionaire partner, Sodexo, everyone needed to be fully on board with this idea, and they have been. Everyone needed to accept responsibility and support one another, and to this point, it’s been fantastic.

3. What were some major challenges in going nut-free?

I think that the biggest challenge was in understanding the layers involved. The logistics are so broad; you have to think about the product you have in place already, the aggressive cleaning measures that need to be done and the unseen areas affected like cooking oil and candies. It’s been important for us to understand all of the places that people are impacted.

4. What has the feedback been like from fans and the community?

The response we’ve seen and heard has been incredibly positive. After we decided to operate peanut and tree-nut free for one football game last fall, we received overwhelming support from all across the country. Even people who weren’t able to be in Evanston that day were thanking us for raising awareness on a national level. That encouragement only strengthened our resolve to create increased opportunities and inspired us to do even more.

5. Any advice for other schools or teams that may add nut-free games?

We’re able to help people attend a game who otherwise may not be able to do so because of severe peanut and tree nut allergies. It’s something that so many people take for granted, and if your team is in a position to provide a memorable experience, why wouldn’t you?

Northwestern is offering football and basketball tickets for their nut free games at a 15 percent discount! Northwestern also will not serve peanuts at Welsh-Ryan Arena for 10 men’s and six women’s basketball games, all 18 home volleyball matches and three wrestling events. For complete schedules or to order online, visit NUsports.com or Download this flyer

New Study: Prevalence of Peanut Allergy is High in Elementary School-Age Children

Over the years, numerous studies have attempted to determine the prevalence of food allergies in U.S. children, based on varying criteria. In a letter to the editor, published online on July 30 in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, researchers report the results of a new study funded by the National Institutes of Health, which shows that peanut allergy is “an increasingly prevalent condition” among school-age children in the U.S. Researchers concluded that the prevalence of  clinical peanut allergy among children between the ages of 7 and 10 was 5 percent – higher than previous estimates.

Dr. Supinda Bunyavanich (Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, NY) and colleagues studied the prevalence of peanut allergy among 616 children between the ages of 7 and 10. These children were participants in Project Viva, a study that has been exploring a wide range of health issues among more than 2,000 women and their children in eastern Massachusetts for more than a decade. The researchers also compared their results to prevalence estimates from previous studies.

In their analysis of the Project Viva group, the researchers determined the prevalence of peanut allergy based on several different sets of criteria:

  • Self-reported peanut allergy (based on mothers’ responses to questions about symptoms and history of reactions): 6 percent
  • Clinical peanut allergy (based on laboratory results): 5.0 percent
  • Peanut allergy based on laboratory results, plus an epinephrine auto-injector prescription: 4.6 percent
  • Peanut allergy based on blood test results that show the highest level of sensitivity to peanut, plus an auto-injector prescription: 2.0 percent

In all cases, the prevalence rates were higher than those reported in previous studies using comparable criteria.

Back-to-School Homework for Food Allergy Parents

busFor some parents, sending a child with life-threatening food allergies off to school can feel like an overwhelming task, especially if the child is entering a new school or attending for the first time. FARE has many resources on our website’s “Managing Food Allergies at School” section, but there are a few key tasks for food allergy parents to complete before the school year starts.

Assignment #1: Get your paperwork in order

FARE’s Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Emergency Care Plan should be on file for every student with food allergies. It outlines treatment recommended treatment in case of an allergic reaction, includes emergency contact numbers and is signed by the student’s physician.

Students with food allergies should also have a written management plan, such as a 504 Plan, in place. A 504 Plan (named for Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973) is a plan that outlines the accommodations, aids or services that a student with a disability needs in order to use, and fully participate in, a free and appropriate public education (FAPE).

Assignment #2: Make your shopping list

Along with new sneakers and a lunchbox, add medical identification jewelry to your Back-to-School shopping list. Wearing medical identification at all times can help give you peace of mind that you are prepared should a life-threatening reaction occur. We have partnered with the MedicAlert Foundation to launch the “MyVoice” program, designed to help protect individuals with food allergies with life-saving services. The MyVoice program provides a 10 percent discount on MedicAlert memberships as well as $10 off a medical identification bracelet for both adults and children. Learn more on the MedicAlert website.

You can also purchase Allergy Caution Labels from Name Bubbles to  label items that travel to and from your house with identification and emergency contact information. Through FARE’s partnership with the company, they will be donating 20% of all allergy product purchases to FARE, with a minimum donation of $10,000 for 2014. Create your personalized labels on the Name Bubbles website

Assignment #3: Talk to your team

Putting a written management plan in place requires communication and coordination with many school staff members, such as administrators, school nurses, food service staff, and your allergist or other doctor.

Teachers are key partners in keeping children with food allergies safe and included at school. Before the first day of school, meet with the teacher to discuss the child’s emergency care and management plans. You can also provide him/her with a copy of FARE’s Teacher’s Checklist, which has 10 basic tips for teachers who have students with food allergies, such as using non-food incentives and having rapid access to epinephrine auto-injectors.

Assignment #4: Send education and awareness posters to your school

Back to School season is a great opportunity to take action and work with your local schools to educate the school community about the serious nature of food allergies. This year, with your $25 donation to our poster drive, we will send three premium posters to the school or community building of your choice to help educate and raise awareness about food allergies. This is a simple way you can provide your school with resources and make a difference!

Assignment #5: Have a family meeting

Talking to your child and explaining or reinforcing some basic safety precautions can help them feel confident entering a new school year. While each child is different, you can focus on a few things they can do each day at school, such as:

  • Knowing where their epinephrine is stored or carrying it with them at all times.
  • Always wearing their medical identification bracelet.
  • Only eating the food you have packed or approved as safe for them.
  • Telling an adult immediately if they feel sick.

In addition to the information provided here, there is a wealth of information about how to successfully manage food allergies at school on FARE’s website, including national guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), a letter from FARE to school leaders, and information about school access to epinephrine.

Letter to the Community from FARE’s CEO, John Lehr

John-800Dear FARE Supporters,

Since April 2012, I have had the pleasure and privilege of serving as the Chief Executive Officer of Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE), and its legacy organizations, the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network (FAAN) and the Food Allergy Initiative (FAI). Today, I am announcing that I will be stepping down as CEO of FARE on August 30 to pursue a new business opportunity. You can find the full announcement here. Before I go, I wanted to take a moment to celebrate with you the terrific work we have done together.

In the past two years, FARE – and the food allergy community – have experienced tremendous progress and growth. First, through the formation of one national organization with a common mission—to find a cure for food allergies and to keep individuals with food allergies safe and included. From the merger, we developed a new brand, launched a new website, built a national field operation with six offices across the country, expanded grassroots fundraising opportunities, and exceeded previous fundraising records for luncheons, the FARE Walk for Food Allergy program, and major gifts. In our first full year as a new organization, we raised more than $16.5 million to support important food allergy research, education, advocacy and awareness initiatives, which represents an increase of more than 25 percent over the combined total raised by FARE’s legacy organizations in 2012. This would not have been possible without your generosity and commitment to our cause.

With these funds, we have made important progress in every area of our mission:

  • We established a new proactive research program based on the input of the leading scientists in the field and increased our investment in innovative treatments.
  • To further our education mission, we launched a national program to enhance restaurant safety for diners with food allergies, developed a program to help students with food allergies transition to college, held our first FARE National Food Allergy Conference, and introduced our free monthly webinar series to provide food allergy education to anyone with an internet connection.
  • In November 2013, President Obama signed into law the School Access to Emergency Epinephrine Act, a FARE-directed effort to incentivize states to stock epinephrine in schools. We have also been proud to support many successful state stock epinephrine initiatives led by dedicated local advocates.
  • We dramatically increased awareness of food allergy as a serious public health issue through our new award-winning website, media outreach, our social media outlets, and the nationally televised documentary, “An Emerging Epidemic – Food Allergies in America,” narrated by Steve Carell.

These are just a few highlights, and all of this success was made possible because of the dedicated staff, volunteers, donors, supporters and Board members who gave their time and resources, and worked long hours to make the world better for people with food allergies.

Thank you for everything you have done to help advance the cause.

The transformation of FARE and the food allergy community over two years has truly been remarkable. I am so proud to have been a part of that, and I will keep the individuals and families I have met and worked with at FARE forever in my heart.

I see a bright future ahead for FARE and the food allergy community, and know that a time will come when the hard work will have paid off, and we will have safe and effective treatments for all individuals with food allergies.  Thank you for the opportunity to serve, it has been an honor and a privilege.

 

Sincerely,

John L. Lehr