Food allergy awareness week is upon us (it starts on Sunday) and here’s FAI’s Food Allergy Initiative) contribution: "Give It Up". Read on.
Allergic Girl: Tell us about Food Allergy Initiative:
Steve Rice, FAI: FAI is the largest private source of funding ($65 million and counting) for food allergy research in the United States. Our goal is simple: find a cure for life-threatening food allergies through research, advocacy and education.
AG: What do you do at FAI?
SR: I am the Director of Public Affairs and the Washington, DC presence for FAI (which is based in New York City). My job is to help increase federal funding of research to help find a cure. To do that, I mobilize food allergy families and others to communicate with federal policymakers that the government must do more.
AG: Tell us about the “GIVE IT UP” campaign for food allergy week?
SR: We are asking people to support their friends and family that have food allergies by giving up a favorite food during Food Allergy Awareness Week – then we’d like them to tell their elected officials and our Facebook community about their experience.
AG: It’s a deceptively simple idea. Can you expand?
SR: Life-threatening food allergies are incredibly challenging and often dangerous to live with, and there is no way most people can truly appreciate the impact these allergies have on the day to day lives of sufferers. But there are 12 million Americans now with food allergies, and this is a huge public health problem. We need more people, and subsequently policy makers, to get a glimpse into this existence – no matter how small – and understand why finding a cure must become a bigger national priority.
AG: What inspired the “GIVE IT UP” campaign for this year’s food allergy awareness week?
SR: A group of our volunteers were brainstorming about holding a new, family-oriented event in New York and came up with the concept. As we began to discuss it further, we realized that by leveraging the power of social media, we could reach out to people nationwide. And of course, Food Allergy Awareness Week is the ideal time to do that.
AG: Who do you think should join?
SR: We hope food allergy sufferers will ask everyone they know to walk in their shoes this week. And those with food allergies should lead the charge by telling their elected officials now is the time for action.
AG: What are you hoping the non-food allergic participant get out the experience?
SR: A better understanding of the challenges faced by people with food allergies, and the motivation to flex their muscles and advocate to public policymakers about the need to fund research to find a cure.
AG: What are you giving up, Steve?
SR: I am giving up eggs during Food Allergy Awareness Week, because I hear they are among the single toughest allergens to avoid. As I seek to mobilize people whose families suffer from food allergies, I believe it is critical to walk in their shoes so I can relate to the challenges they face.
AG: What else is FAI up to?
SR: FAI invests in studies to find a cure and better diagnose and treat food allergy symptoms and complications, including anaphylaxis and chronic diseases of the skin and gastrointestinal tract. (FAI funds over 30 basic and clinical research studies at major medical centers worldwide.) While you’re on the FAI website, check out http://www.faiusa.org/?page=FAI_Research_Grants for details about our ongoing studies. We’re also getting lots of compliments on our new video, “Parents Speak about Their Children’s Food Allergies” (http://www.youtube.com/user/faiusa) — which shows exactly why this research is so important.
Excellent, Steve. Thank you. You can find more info about "Give It Up" and FAI here (and any hotlink above).