Although you were expecting a recipe today, I hope you don’t mind that instead I wanted to share some exciting news for children with food allergies. I will try to post a recipe tomorrow. (Also revisit this website later this week for other good news.)
VA Legislation for Epinephrine Auto-Injectors in Schools
Last Thursday, April 26, Virginia Governor Robert McDonnell signed the “EpiPen bills” into law!
House Bill 1107 and Senate Bill 656 were inspired, in part, by the death of 7-year-old Amarria Johnson, who died at her Virginia elementary school in January 2012 after suffering an allergic reaction during recess from eating a peanut given to her by a friend. Amarria’s mother had told reporters that she had tried giving the school an EpiPen in case of an emergency, but the school had refused to accept it.
Commonly referred to as the “EpiPen bills,” the legislation requires Virginia school boards to establish policies for keeping EpiPens on hand at every school. That way a school nurse or other employee can administer an EpiPen to any student thought to be having an anaphylatic reaction. The Virginia state budget passed last week allocated $200,000 to public schools to buy EpiPens.
To the many friends and family members who have asked me why I am sharing my recipes, a lot of it has to do with Amarria’s unfortunate story. Shortly after discovering that my daughter suffers from multiple food allergies, I started hearing reports of a local 7-year old girl who died from eating a peanut. I couldn’t help but wonder what drove Amarria to eat that peanut. Did she know it was a peanut? Was it curiosity? Had she succumbed to the pressure of friends? Was it out of the yearn to ”fit in” for just a moment? Might she have believed a little taste couldn’t hurt? Or was she just certain that the adults around her (e.g., teachers and school nurse) could protect her from harm? (With my daughter now in daycare, I worry a lot about this last one.)
Unfortunately, I don’t think it is until you have a child with food allergies that you realize the seriousness of them. (This is a serious mistake, as a study found that approximately 25% of allergic reactions in schools occur in children who were previously undiagnosed with a food allergy.) So the answer to what inspired me? I realized that Amarria’s story could have been my daughter’s story.
My hope is that sharing YUMmy allergy-friendly recipes will provide tasty options to children, while teaching them and others (especially those without food allergies) the seriousness of what having a food allergy means. (And no, just brushing the cheese off the salad I ordered isn’t good enough.)
I am thankful that Virginia passed the EpiPen bills and that the loss of Amarria’s family was not in vain. I pray that other states (and DC) pass similar legislation soon.
Help Raise Awareness of the Dangers of Food Allergies
On a related note, the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network (FAAN) is encouraging similar national legislation. The School Access to Emergency Epinephrine Act (Senate Bill 1884 and House Bill 3627) encourages states to ensure that “stock” EpiPens are available in all schools and that school staff is trained to administer them.
How YOU Can Take Action:
- Download one of FAAN’s sample letters of support for national EpiPen bills, personalize the letters, and send them to your senators and representatives;
- Join or donate to FAAN and other organizations dedicated to building awareness to children with food allergies (see “Charities” list);
- Consider these fundraising activities during Food Allergy Awareness Week (May 13-19, 2012) to support organizations dedicated to helping children with food allergies; and
- Bring attention to the issue of food allergies by showing off in Nom Yum & Free wear (portion of proceeds support organizations dedicated to helping children with food allergies).
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