Callie Milner wants everyone to be able to enjoy dessert together, which is why she started Callie’s Nut-Free Treats, a home-based bakery business that has been churning out nut-free baked goods and delighting customers in the Chicago area. At just nine years old, Callie and her mother Dara are donating all proceeds from their sales to FARE so they can help raise funds for food allergy research, education, advocacy and awareness. We asked Callie to tell us more about her successful fundraiser:
What are your food allergies? What’s it like having food allergies?
I am allergic to peanuts. When I go to a restaurant and I am ordering food, I have to be really careful that the server understands that my food cannot touch anything with peanuts. Cross-contact is the biggest thing about having food allergies. Having a food allergy makes you have to think in every situation about what you are eating and what others are eating around you. It is usually ok, but sometimes people don’t listen or understand and that is when it gets tiring. It is also tiring when there are really good treats around you that you can’t eat, and that is why I made Callie’s Nut-Free Treats!
Tell us about how you have been fundraising for FARE.
I have been making Callies’ Nut-Free Treats to raise money for FARE. I dance at All About Dance in Chicago and Ms. Jessica and Ms. Shannon (the owners) have let me have bake sales there for 3 years. All of my treats are peanut, tree-nut and shellfish free and many are gluten-free and egg-free. I also have a website that people can order off of as part of the bake sale. I have raised over $9,000 so far and I don’t plan to stop!
Why did you want to do it? Why was it was important to you?
Callie’s Nut-Free Treats was really important to me because when I would see a good treat, I would really want to eat it, but I couldn’t because of my food allergy. So that’s why I made Callie’s Nut-Free Treats. I know how it feels for kids with food allergies and I want to make treats that a lot of people with food allergies and also without food allergies can eat. Now I don’t feel bad when I see great treats. I also wanted to teach people about food allergies and why they have to be really careful.
Which of your baked goods is your favorite? Which is the most popular seller?
My favorites are chocolate-covered chocolate sandwich cookies, chocolate sandwich cookie and potato chip milk chocolate bark, chocolate covered graham crackers with sprinkles and marshmallows. Our best sellers are the chocolate-covered chocolate sandwich cookies and solid chocolate pops.
How can you be a good friend to someone with food allergies?
You can be a good friend by not eating something they are allergic to when you are near them. You can also help protect someone with food allergies by telling your mom, dad or nanny to not serve foods they are allergic to and not allow foods to touch what you are allergic to when they come to your house. Like if a knife was used on peanut butter and then put in the jelly jar, I can’t eat that jelly.
What advice would you give a kid or a friend who was just diagnosed with food allergies?
Some tips I would give a friend that was just diagnosed with food allergies would be:
- Be very very very very very very careful when you go to a restaurant. You have to say my food can’t be touched to what I am allergic to. You can ask the server to ask the chef what is safe for you to eat. Make sure they understand cross-contact.
- If someone is eating something you are allergic to, you have to speak up for yourself and say can you please not eat that and go wash your hands.
- There are still a lot of great things you can eat. You can eat out and you can make lots of good things at home. I have traveled lots of places and I get to eat many yummy things.
- I have made lots of great friends and done special things because of my food allergies so don’t worry.
Thank you, Callie, for supporting FARE and providing safe treats for individuals with food allergies in the Chicago area. Callie’s treats are available for pick up to those in the Chicago area and can be ordered online at calliesnutfreetreats.com.