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
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
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 www.foodallergy.org.
Contact: FAAN Media Relations, 703/691-3179
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