“When my youngest son was fifteen months old, right after dinner, all of a sudden, he got hives, head to toe. He started having trouble breathing, projectile vomiting, his face started swelling. His body started swelling. We didn’t know what was going on.”
After that scary evening, she found out her youngest son was allergic to peanuts, tree nuts, eggs and oranges.
Kelley Barnett is the President and founder of FAAM, the Food Allergy Alliance of the Mid-South.
It turns out that one in thirteen American children have food allergies.
Her son is now eight and doing great, but she remembers what it was like right after getting his diagnosis.
“It was very overwhelming and challenging,” Kelley said. “Everything that we knew, every recipe that we had for every traditional meal, everything was kind of turned upside down.”
The Food Allergy Alliance of the Mid-South is a nonprofit organization providing support, education and fellowship to adults and kids.
They help turn your world right side up: offering ways to live well with food allergies
Kelley even goes food shopping with families. “[I] help teach people to read labels and to find out what food works best for them,” Kelley said.
For many, having a food allergy can be alienating. Education is key, and so is inclusion.
That is why the teal pumpkin project is important to FAAM. It’s a safe way to still take part in holidays without leaving anyone out.
“A teal pumpkin symbolizes that we have nonfood treats for you,” Kelley said. “A little pack of cards, or a little car or bubbles or stickers. Something that they can take away and have fun with at home.”
When it comes to throwing holiday parties, it just takes a slight adjustment.
“At first it’s like oh no, we can’t have any of the party food because someone has this allergy.” Kelley told us. “But, in reality, it may be leaving out one thing, or tweaking the recipe. So, instead of using peanut butter, you use sun butter. Instead of using milk, use can use a milk substitute.”
That is why our anonymous donor wanted to give Food Allergy Alliance of the Mid-South a thousand dollars. Because when you share your knowledge on how to live well with food allergies, you create a safe place for all to be included. They are a true community changer.
If you know someone or an organization making a difference in the community, Corie would love to hear from you. Reach out to her by sending an email or a message on social media.