WEST ORANGE, NJ - Several West Orange families gathered last weekend to raise money for FARE, Food Allergy Research and Education. Two families, the Hahns and the Ngs, have children with severe to moderate food allergies and their struggles have motivated them to educate the public on the seriousness of food allergies while providing safe environments and choices for their children.
Angela Hahn's daughter, Kaitlyn, first exhibited signs of serious food allergies at the age of five months when she had an anaphylactic reaction to baby formula. Prior to that, Kaitlyn was breast-fed and exhibited severe eczema, which doctors attributed to the weather. When Kaitlyn went into anaphylactic shock, she was rushed to the hospital and subsequently tested for allergies, testing positive for dairy, egg, tree nuts, peanuts, seeds, beef and pork. Angela was horrified to learn that Kaitlyn's eczema was caused by those products in Angela's breast milk. Kaitlyn was placed on Nutramigen, a special yet expensive formula that comes broken down for consumption, until she was able to alter her own diet and resume breast feeding.
Kaitlyn's allergies remain so severe that she cannot be in the same area that beef and pork are cooking. (Many allergens are airborne.) This posed a huge problem when Kaitlyn began school last year at Redwood. However, Angela noted that Principal Barbara Kivlon and the staff were "wonderful," working with the Hahns to institute polices and procedures to help keep her safe. Because of her young age, ultimately an aide was provided for Kaitlyn to oversee her during lunch.
For many children, they begin to outgrow their allergies as they get older. This was the case with Kevin, who outgrew several allergies yet remains allergic to soy, tree nuts and peanuts. Kevin is currently attending Edison Middle School and while school districts and food service providers may be able to provide a list of ingredients and work with families to provide as safe an environment as possible, a parent still remains the best advocate for their child. As a child gets older they need to learn to adjust to the world around them and deal with their allergies proactively.
As auto-immune health issues continue to rise among children and adults, more research and and solutions to address them needs to be developed. Enter FARE, Food Allergy Research and Education. FARE was formed in 2012 through a merger with the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network and the Food Allergy Initiative. According to the FARE website, their mission is:
- Providing evidence-based education and resources,
- Undertaking advocacy at all levels of government,
- Increasing awareness of food allergies as a serious public health issue, and
- Investing in world-class research that advances treatment and understanding of the disease.
Redwood School parents raised several thousand dollars with a walk and this past weekend, the Redwood Community held a two day garage sale, which raised $1,500 and brought them to their $5,000 goal for FARE.
Visit the FARE website at: http://www.foodallergy.org/.