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Article of Interest - Food Allergies

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IL First Lady Patti Blagojevich Announces Illinois Becomes First State in the Nation to Offer a Statewide Food Allergy Educational Program
The Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network (FAAN), September 29, 2005


First Lady Patti Blagojevich today announced that Illinois schools will now be better equipped to protect children from potentially life-threatening food allergies. The First Lady launched a new awareness campaign targeted at educating school personnel and students on the dangers of food allergies. Working with The Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network (FAAN), Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich and the First Lady will offer food allergy educational kits to the approximately 5,000 schools and licensed child-care centers in Illinois. The kits will help schools keep kids with food allergies safe from reactions. Illinois becomes the first state in the nation to offer a statewide food allergy educational program.

With reports of increased food allergy in the classroom, the First Lady urged parents and school personnel to become better educated on life-threatening food allergies.

“I know parents of children with food allergies worry every day about what their children eat. I know because one of my daughters, Annie, is allergic to dairy and peanuts. I wouldn’t be doing my job as a mother or the First Lady if I didn’t urge each and every one of you to become educated on food related allergies and prevention methods,” said Mrs. Blagojevich.

According to FAAN, m ore than 11 million Americans have food allergies and approximately three million children under the age of 18 years old, or 1-in-25 American children, have a food allergy. There is no cure for food allergies, so individuals must be mindful and avoid foods that pose a health risk. Although an individual can be allergic to any type of food, eight foods account for 90 percent of all food-allergic reactions: milk, egg, peanut, tree nut (walnut, cashew, etc.), fish, shell fish, soy and wheat.

The kits distributed to schools will include “ The School Food Allergy Program,” a multi-media training guide created by FAAN which will help school personnel develop a comprehensive plan specifically geared towards successful management of food allergies in their schools.

“ Illinois is leading the nation and is setting the example of how all schools nationwide should approach the safety of their students. It is FAAN’s hope that many more states follow Illinois,” said Anne Munoz-Furlong, Founder & CEO of FAAN. “There is a need, now more than ever, for standardized training programs for school staff to address this growing public health and food safety issue.”

FAAN encourages school administrators to remember their ABCs when instituting a food allergy school safety plan:

A – Advance planning. Schedule a meeting with school staff and the parents of the food allergic student to discuss the student’s food allergy.

B – Be a PAL. Educate other students about food allergies and help them learn how to help friends that have food allergies. Teach students the five steps to being a PAL: (1) Recognize that food allergies can be very serious and shouldn’t be taken lightly; (2) Don’t share food; (3) Wash hands after eating; (4) Find out what your friends are allergic to and help them to avoid it; and (5) Get help immediately if a schoolmate has a reaction.

C – Create a safe environment. Schools need to create a safe environment by minimizing risk and developing an emergency response plan should an allergic reaction occur.

Beginning today, letters will be mailed to Illinois schools encouraging school personnel to order their educational kit. The distribution of the kits will come at no cost to the state or local schools, and has been underwritten by a generous private donation. Schools that are interested in obtaining the free training guide should contact FAAN at 1-800/929-4040 or via the web at

Contact: FAAN Media Relations, 703/691-3179


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