Today, on a day when we commemorate sadness and loss, 500 people in Denver are doing something good for others , as they embark on the Denver FAAN Walk to help fund food allergy awareness, advocacy, education and research . Food allergies may not be anything you think about if you don’t have them, but for 15 million Americans, nearly half of them children, food allergies are a serious and sometimes life threatening problem. When your need for sustenance is also a serious threat to your health, then life can become pretty complicated, for you and your family.
The Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network (FAAN) is a nonprofit organization based in Fairfax, Va., with approximately 25,000 members in the U.S., Canada, and 58 other countries. FAAN provides information and educational resources about food allergy to patients, their families, schools, health professionals, pharmaceutical companies, the food industry, and government officials.
When we were trying to figure out my son’s vague and seemingly intractable health problems a dozen years ago, FAAN resources were vital, and I also drew heavily upon them when putting together my book, the Food Allergy Field Guide: A Lifestyle Manual for Families. Today, the Food Allergy Field Guide is part of the Denver FAAN Walk, and I’m happy to be hosting a month long FAAN fundraiser here, with 20% of book purchases made through my website benefitting FAAN.
Before we discovered my son’s food sensitivities, we never thought about food very much. Our family simply ate the foods we enjoyed without giving the source of our health and well being much consideration. After we learned about gluten intolerance, we began learning about food, its beautifies and complexities, its most essential qualities and its least essential ones. Our son was instrumental in raising our health intelligence quotient , in a way that was ahead of the national learning curve at the time. Many of the families whose stories I share in the book reported similar experiences.
If there’s a silver lining to living with a food allergy, it’s that it forces us to reexamine our lives from its most basic and fundamental aspects to its most sublime. Having access to resources and information like FAAN makes available helps those with food allergies live more intentional lives of health and safety, and their research based efforts are also helping pave the way for better labeling, treatments and practices for those with severe food allergies.
More than 80% of every dollar donated to FAAN is spent on research and education and awareness programs. Since 2004, FAAN has funded more than $4.6 million in research. And in education, which remains the single most important component of staying safe while living with food allergies, FAAN has funded nearly $175,000 in Community Outreach Grants since 2006 to local support groups throughout the country. Some of those local groups will be holding our own Tampa FAAN Walk at Lowry Park in Tampa, on November 12, for those interested in making a local impact.
For more information about FAAN, and to find great resources about food allergies, please visit www.foodallergy.org.