Temperatures are dropping. There are reports of snow in more northern locations, and people around the U.S. are busy getting ready for Thanksgiving. There are posts in online food allergy discussion groups about how to handle the holidays, how to manage food allergies hosting or visiting for Thanksgiving, and there are recipes for stuffings and fake pecan pies. With all the stress that comes with how to manage food allergies and relatives' lack of awareness or understanding about food allergies, little time is spent talking about the food allergy families whose biggest challenge of the moment is just figuring how to afford allergy safe food to get through the week--any week--not just holidays.
Have you ever been on food stamps or EBT? Or fuel assistance? Or electricity assistance? Or other forms of government assistance? Have you ever had to go to the local food pantry for food for yourself? If not, consider yourself lucky. FARE states that about 15 million Americans have food allergies, and about 1 in every 13 children under the age of 18. Chances are, some of those Americans with food allergies are facing tough times and aren't able to make ends meet. If you think managing food allergies now is challenging, imagine what it would be like if you could not afford your groceries. Being disappointed that your favorite cookie or cracker or English muffin is now made on shared lines would pale in comparison to problems like struggling to simply afford groceries.
Let's start a new tradition. If you have an extra $5 in the next few weeks or months, consider purchasing an allergy friendly mix or snack by a company like Namaste or Enjoy Life Foods or another super allergy friendly manufacturer, and drop it off to your local food pantry. They may not have food allergy families banging down the doors, but if food allergy families in need knew they possibly could look to food pantries like the rest of the families in need, I think they would be extremely grateful.
There is a wonderful organization in Kansas called the Food Equality Initiative. They focus exclusively on providing safe food for low-income individuals managing celiac disease and food allergies. More people need to follow their example. It's really incumbent on the rest of the food allergy community to step up and support food allergy families in need. To look for food banks or food pantries near you, visit feedingamerica.org or Ample Harvest.