What to Expect at a FARE Walk for Food Allergy

The FARE Walk for Food Allergy is a family-friendly event that takes place in more than 60 communities nationwide, and right now it’s walk season! Thousands of walkers across the country are fundraising, recruiting team members, and preparing for the event. Whether you’re a first-time walker or a veteran, we wanted to provide you with some useful information based on questions we frequently receive. Visit www.foodallergywalk.org for more information, to register, or to donate to an individual or team!

philadelphia

How long of a distance is the walk?
Our walks range from two to three miles, with some walks providing a 5k run or walk/run option.

Who makes the walk program possible?

FARE is fortunate to have many generous sponsors at our walks. The support they provide through the walks is instrumental in funding the national education, awareness, advocacy and research initiatives FARE undertakes in support of the entire food allergy community. Our walks are also made possible through the efforts of hundreds of volunteers – from the walk chairs who organize the events, to supporters who help the walks to run smoothly. Thank you!

What kind of activities will there be at the walk?

In addition to the walk itself, there are a variety of fun activities at each Walk for children and adults. Many walks feature face painting, moon bounces, rock-climbing walls, carnival games, crafts, and prize drawings. A deejay, clowns, musicians, or other performers are also in attendance to provide entertainment throughout the day. There are also a variety of local and national vendors who are on site at each walk, including allergists’ offices, book authors, and food companies.

Will there be food samples or food served at the event?

All of our walks have free samples available, provided by our sponsors or local businesses. We hear from many of the individuals and families who participate in the walks each year that they appreciate these samples because it gives them the opportunity to learn about new or different allergy-friendly food products that they may be able to incorporate into their lifestyles.

What type of safety precautions or policies do you have in place regarding food?

We take a number of safety precautions to help everyone have as safe and enjoyable an experience as possible. We do our very best to share and enforce these policies with walk participants both in advance and on-site, making the information available multiple times through a variety of channels both before and at the event.

FARE Walk Policy Regarding Food at the Walks

In advance of each walk:

  • Walk chairs and staff members discuss all food samples with sponsors prior to the walk and sponsors must clearly list and label the ingredients of their products.
  • A statement is posted on each walk website and an email is sent to all registered walkers in advance of the event reminding everyone that there will be samples at the event and that they should read labels and refrain from opening samples at the walk.
  • A message is sent to walk volunteers noting that they should not bring food to the walk site , and that they should be aware of any foods they consume beforehand and properly wash their hands before arriving at the walk.

On-site at the walk:

  • There is signage on each food table that reminds everyone to read the ingredients on all food product labels.
  • At least three announcements are made during each walk reminding everyone to read labels and to refrain from opening samples at the walk.
  • Sponsors who arrive with food that was not reported to FARE in advance are asked to remove it from the site. If it is learned after the fact that a sponsor provided food that was not reported in advance, FARE staff will follow up with the sponsor to remind them of our policies.

If you have questions or want to get involved in a walk in your community, please visit www.foodallergywalk.org for contact and event-specific information.

14 thoughts on “What to Expect at a FARE Walk for Food Allergy

  1. I personally think the walks should be food free if parents want to try products they should be given samples in a goodie bag as they leave to try when they get home. Having open food/samples is very dangerous for children like my son with severe food allergies and as we know it’ll only take one bite, one handshake or some liquids to drop on him to send children like him to the ER. The walks can be as successful without food. I will not go to one until they do.

    • I absolutely agree, the Walks should be food free and SAFE for ALL to attend. I have planned this event in my city for four years, and no matter how much table signage there is asking people to take their samples home or even take to a designated eating area at the site, there are people who open their samples at the main event site. I think the option to have vendor samples handed out upon exiting the event is a great option for those event planners who really want to make their Food Allergy Walk accessible to all food allergic families who want to attend. Really, if you want people to attend and feel that this is THEIR event, food, even vendor samples, has no place at the main Walk event area.

  2. Hi Patty, I completely understand where you are coming from, but I would encourage you to reconsider. We have a daughter (age 3) that has severe food allergies to milk, egg, peanuts, tree nuts, and shellfish. She even reacts on contact. We keep our home entirely free of all of her allergens and we eat the same diet as her, however it becomes more difficult when we go out to parks, the museum, or the FARE Walk etc. While I agree that we need to take steps to keep everyone safe and I do not want my daughter to come in contact with her allergens, I also realize that being around foods she’s allergic to is an unavoidable thing in life. We allow her to take part in the walk as well as many other events where she might play with children who consumed any of her allergens during or beforehand. We make sure to educate those around us and request that they wash their hands and faces before playing with her. We also wipe her hands frequently. Something to think about.

    • Yea problem is in our city there was dairy and nut products all around that my child is allergic to and we cannot attend. We don’t go to certain places due to his food allergies and for one place to be food free like a FARE walk doesn’t seem that outrageous.

  3. This blog is inaccurate. As a committee member, there were no communications that indicated samples were not to be eaten at the walk. Not from FARE, and not to the attendees. This is the disclaimer provided by FARE, copied directly from an email to attendees: “The FARE Walk is an allergen friendly, NOT an allergen free event. Parents and guardians, please do not allow your child to take or eat any food items from sponsors until you have checked the package labeling and have personally deeemd the food item safe for your child’s consumption. Please be aware of your surroundings and respect all participants who are attending by NOT eating any food items in the walk area.” This message is clearly that they may enjoy the samples in a mindful manner. This is the message the committee was instructed to announce.
    Having a child with food allergy, we are very familiar with food being a large part of most social gatherings, school events, and public functions. We are excluded from participating in that part of the event due to her allergies. Allergic children live a life of frequent exclusion. An allergy event that was created JUST FOR ALLERGY AWARENESS should not be an event that they feel even the slightest bit unsafe or excluded. How is it ok to create an allergy focused event that makes attendees feel vulnerable or excluded- the one place they should be just one of the crowd and able to fully enjoy being part of the community?
    I agree with the above, that samples should be provided as attendees exit, so as to keep the walk itself a welcoming and joyful experience.

  4. Having a child with food allergy, we are very familiar with food being a large part of most social gatherings, school events, and public functions. We are excluded from participating in that part of the event due to her allergies. Allergic children live a life of frequent exclusion. An allergy event that was created JUST FOR ALLERGY AWARENESS should not be an event that they feel even the slightest bit unsafe or excluded. How is it ok to create an allergy focused event that makes attendees feel vulnerable or excluded- the one place they should be just one of the crowd and able to fully enjoy being part of the community?
    After 6 years of volunteering, raising money, and supporting the event, I will not be involved if any nut containing products are being consumed during the event. I would not be comfortable having my nut allergic 6 year old in this environment. The ideal situation is to have the top 8 allergens not given out as samples during the event. It would be nice to have coupons and info distributed but for the safety of everyone, samples containing the top 8 should be excluded.

    • Once again, I agree! Not allowing samples containing any of the top 8
      allergens seems like a no brainer. However, I would like that to be pushed farther. Having no food at the main event site, and posting NO FOOD signs would certainly have helped prevent someone with an OPEN BAG OF PEANUTS come to our registration table with his family to register for our Walk! Some of our team supporters, who do not have food allergies themselves, still don’t quite “get it” and using the Walk format as a fundraiser, well, people expect food and drink, etc. I still think it would be best to keep all food and food samples away from the main event area, and to be given out upon exit, so those interested in their food specialty samples can receive them from our generous sponsors, and a safe environment can be offered to our food allergic attendees.

      • I completely agree. Samples should only be given as the attendees leave. No samples or foodfor the main event area.

  5. Not to harp on this too much, but as I am organizing my post-Walk papers, looking at my route card where the FARE Mission Statement says “FARE’S mission is to ENSURE THE SAFETY AND INCLUSION of individuals with food allergies while relentlessly seeking a cure.” It seems as though the policy stated above in this blog is at odds with their own mission statement, because allowing food samples to be distributed at the Walks as they are now certainly does not ensure safety and inclusion of individuals with food allergies at the event. Passing out bars with almonds and cheese and cracker sample packets is not in any way safe or inclusive for many food allergic individuals.

  6. This was my family’s first year participating in our city’s walk, and I was shocked and saddened to see so many people eating foods that contain my young children’s allergens. I could not believe that these products were distributed by vendors at the walk. There was no control over the consumption of samples, and the event – which raises money for an organization promoting the SAFETY AND INCLUSION of people with food allergies – was more risky for children than many other day-to-day activites.

    I’ve since contacted FARE about my concerns and their response has been that they need the financial support of these sponsors to make the walks a success. This is disappointing to me, as it goes against the mission of the organization.

    I had felt honored to serve on the planning committee for our walk this year, but now am embarassed to have unknowingly been a part of something that put so many kids at risk just to earn a profit. If FARE does not change its policies related to providing food at the walks, I will not participate in the future.

    • I think many of us Walk organizers, who have been dedicated to this fundraiser for years, are having the same thoughts about not participating or supporting the Walk fundraising format in the future if it continues with the policy stated above. You are absolutely right, their actions here are counter to their mission. A BIG problem.

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