Allergies seem to be more prevalent in our society than ever before. While it was common lunchbox fare to have an old fashioned PB&J in the 80’s, now most public schools are peanut-free. The severity of some of these reactions can be fatal, and though we’ve lost a little convenience with the lack of peanut options, the trade off is the security for those poor parents, fearing for their child’s life. This worry really hit home this year with the discovery of my young niece’s allergy to peanuts. It was severe enough to go to the hospital, and to leave us all a little shaken.
If your child or someone you know suffers from nut, dairy, gluten, or other food allergy, you understand the hesitation that comes with the Halloween loot bag. You have to mercilessly hunt through the content, concerned not just for safety, but now also through an uncertain ingredients list. It might be difficult for younger children to understand why they can’t eat what their friends can, or to sadly watch as their hard-earn loot slowly dwindles to the ones known to be safe – if any.
Enter FARE –Food Allergy Research & Education. Their website explains:
In 2012, Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE) was formed as the result of a merger between the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network (FAAN) and the Food Allergy Initiative (FAI). The new organization combined FAAN’s expertise as the most trusted source of food allergy information, programs and resources with FAI’s leadership as the world’s largest private source of funding for food allergy research. Today, FARE is the leading national organization working on behalf of the 15 million Americans with food allergy, including all those at risk for life-threatening anaphylaxis.
Since the 90’s these two organizations have been working towards awareness and funding to educate the public about food allergies. They have put in place conferences and media campaigns to inform concerned parents and educators of initiatives and support programs. Their latest, starting just last year, is an attempt to take some of that fear and disappointment out of trick-or-treating.
Participation is simple – parents simply create a bowl of non-food options for those kids who can’t eat the vast majority of treats marketed to Halloween shoppers. They even have a list of fantastic non-food treats available on their website. Here's just a small sample of the seasonal items they suggest:
- Glow sticks, bracelets, or necklaces
- Pencils, pens, crayons or markers
- Halloween erasers or pencil toppers
- Mini Slinkies
- Whistles, kazoos, or noisemakers
- Bouncy balls
- Finger puppets or novelty toys