By Henry Ehrlich
We are pleased to have a guest Food Allergy Corner contributor, Dena Friedel of Columbus, Ohio. Since we began this website, I have followed closely the way the issues surrounding food allergies have been handled around the country, so I took this opportunity to ask Dena, via Kathy Franklin, to reflect on what she has seen over the past six years. Here is her response:
As far as the food allergy climate in my area, it has really changed. I think as with anywhere, it has a lot to do with the education that has been done over the past few years. I think for the most part our community is very receptive. While I still hear the occasional horror story, most of the schools work with our parents and do what they can to protect our children. I think that the combination of FAAN and local support groups has provided parents with the resources they need to communicate with their schools confidently.
This directive, Implemented Oct.16, 2009 also helped a lot:
Food Allergy Policy Directive Ohio Revised Code Sec. 3313.719: The board of education of each city, local, exempted village, and joint vocational school district and the governing authority of each chartered nonpublic school shall establish a written policy with respect to protecting students with peanut or other food allergies. The policy shall be developed in consultation with parents, school nurses and other school employees, school volunteers, students, and community members.
I think it takes compromise to work with the schools. It also takes diplomacy and confidence. The fact that our children are protected by the disability laws (even though I personally have not found it necessary to use a 504 plan) helps them take it seriously. With the numbers growing in relation to the number of children with food allergies, I think that it is difficult to find someone out there that is not touched by food allergies. They do not all get it at the same level, but they are at least aware of it and the fact that it can be deadly. This makes a huge difference when dealing with our schools. Outside of schools, I see restaurants trying to work with us and providing allergen information that was never available before. We have also worked with our Triple-A baseball team, the Columbus Clippers, to provide peanut-controlled baseball games for our families each season.
Photo courtesy of wallyg