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

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!

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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.