Friday, September 1, 2017

Do Food Allergies Leave You Hungry?

I am a food allergy mom. As a food allergy mom, I need to feed my allergic child and I need to feed him safely. What if, one day, beyond my control, my world gave me a twist that meant I could no longer just go to the food store and get what I needed to feed my allergic children? What if the money in my pocket was so very slim that I had to feed my allergic child foods to keep him alive while knowing that it would make him sick? What if I went to my local food pantry for help and found nothing that my child could eat safely? This happens every single day, all across the United States and beyond.

When you become a mother, feeding is instinctive and these thoughts were always looming in the back of my mind. I read an article in 2011 published in Gluten Free & More Magazine that described a situation like this and I was horrified. Horrified for the mother that was describing it but also because, at any given moment, this could easily happen to any one of us in the blink of an eye. For many, many years I wanted to change this or figure out how to become a part of the solution to this. Sadly, my local food banks responded to me with "There is no way for us to organize our pantries for these types of foods." ...what?! My immediate response being "Let me come down there and see if I can help you figure it out. There must be a way." No replies, no "thanks but no thanks" just empty silence and the thought of people in my local area having to go through this situation while I sat there, waving my arms and screaming "I can help! Tell me how to help!"

A few months ago, I came across a non-profit organization called Mend Hunger. Their mission is my mission and their goal is to ensure that food pantries are stocked up and able to offer allergy-friendly foods for those who need it. Not only do they coordinate donations to the pantries, they work with them to put an organized plan in place so that the much needed allergy-friendly foods go to the people that truly need it. To date, they service 10 cities and are growing rapidly. The best thing about what they do is that when I asked them "How can I help?" they gave me an answer.

I am honored and humbled to be an Advisory Board member for this amazing organization!

How Can YOU Help? This is the best part- we can all help out in some way. I tend to dream big but as I always tell everyone- your voice matters, your help matters. Even if you are not local to Mend Hunger, you can help!
  • Donations (food items as well as monetary donations)- whether it be that you have a company with products to donate or just that food allergies are near and dear to your heart, contact Mend Hunger and see how you can work together. Anything helps- that donation that you might feel is too tiny could be a meal for one more person.
  • Host a Food Drive With the holidays around the corner, this is especially important. Hosting a food drive can be a family event, a neighborhood event or even a classroom event. Helping others is not only rewarding but the feeling that you get when you know you are doing something for others is priceless.
  • Amazon Smile Do you shop online? Use this as an opportunity to donate! Amazon will donate 0.5% of the price of your eligible AmazonSmile purchases to Mend Hunger when you shop on AmazonSmile (see why they are smiling?)
  •  Get Involved Mend Hunger is a non-profit organization and they can use your help in other areas as well. Check their About tab and see what internships are currently open. By donating a few hours of work to them weekly, Mend Hunger can continue to expand above and beyond and you will be a part of that process.
  • Attend a Candlelight Cabaret Mend Hunger is hosting a fundraising event on Saturday November 11th - if you are in the Glencoe, Illinois area or would like to attend, click here for details. Interested in donating items for the event or a sponsorship? Reach out to me and I'll be happy to get you started!

We have choices to make every day- let's be a part of the choices that truly matter. Invest in your food allergy family, invest in helping others and invest in knowing that you are a part of the good things that are still found in this world. Mend Hunger can be found on the web, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

"Food allergy support; this is a vast, never-ending place where people from all around the world meet. This is a family that you never knew existed and that you didn't think would ever be a part of your life." 
~ Tracy Bush,

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