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Ask an Expert: Eleanor Garrow-Holding of FAACT

It’s June, which means we’re gearing up for SUMMER! Did you know that we work with several camps to provide allergy-friendly treats for campers with food allergies? One of our partners is Camp TAG – a summer camp that’s organized by our friends at FAACT! To celebrate the upcoming summer season, we partnered with Eleanor Garrow-Holding, the President & CEO of FAACT, to highlight our partnership and show you how we interact with our beloved campers!

Enjoy Life: What is the mission of FAACT, and when was it founded?

Eleanor: FAACT’s mission is to educate, advocate, and raise awareness for all individuals and families affected by food allergies and life-threatening anaphylaxis. Whether it’s keeping children safe at school, responding to food allergy bullying, traveling, preparing for college, dealing with workplace issues, or simply taking the family out for dinner, FAACT has all the facts you need to manage food allergies and stay healthy. FAACT is your voice for food allergy awareness.

Enjoy Life: What is your role at FAACT?

Eleanor: As CEO of the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Connection Team (FAACT), I provide leadership, development, and implementation for all of FAACT’s initiatives and programs, including Camp TAG (The Allergy Gang) – a summer camp for children with food allergies and their siblings that Eleanor founded in 2009. Eleanor has a Bachelor of Healthcare Administration degree from Lewis University in Romeoville, IL, and worked in hospital management for 16 years in Chicago and suburban Chicago prior to working in the nonprofit sector.

Enjoy Life: How does FAACT work with partners like Enjoy Life Foods?

Eleanor: Along with supporting all of our programs as I mentioned earlier, FAACT and Enjoy Life Foods partner on education and awareness initiatives. We also share each other’s information on social media and through our communication channels.

Enjoy Life: Why has FAACT partnered with Enjoy Life in the past?

Eleanor: Enjoy Life Foods supports FAACT’s education and peer programs, including Camp TAG (The Allergy Gang), Food Industry & Research Summit, Leadership Summit, and Teen Retreat Weekend. Enjoy Life Foods also provides In-Kind donations for all of our programs. We are grateful for our partnership with Enjoy Life Foods on shared initiatives and providing resources for the food allergy community.

Enjoy Life: Tell us about Camp TAG!

Eleanor: Camp TAG provides a safe place for children with food allergies, eosinophilic disorders and asthma and their non-allergic siblings to have fun – with no worries about allergic reactions – and meet other children who share similar experiences. It is a bonding and empowering week for all campers, including parents. Camp TAG is 95% fun and 5% educational, with age-appropriate activities and games each day on food allergies, anaphylaxis, nutrition, the emotional impact of living with food allergies (for children with food allergies and their families), and how to stay safe at school and at home. The curriculum was designed and reviewed by FAACT’s Medical Advisory Board. Teens with food allergies, ages 13+, or a sibling of someone with a food allergy, ages 13+, may apply to become volunteer teen camp counselors. Camp TAG provides one counselor for every five children. Teens relate to the campers and act as mentors, and they receive community service hours for the week.

Enjoy Life: What can you tell us of the research being done for food allergies and treatment?

Eleanor: There are definitely more options available today than when we first started on this journey. It is exciting to see the different treatment options that are available and becoming available for families.

Enjoy Life: How can our community increase awareness of food allergies, food safety and anaphylaxis?

Eleanor: Share FAACT’s website, which is full of education content. All of our resources and school programs are free and downloadable. Our civil rights advocacy guidance is a complimentary services. Follow our social pages, as we post education, advocacy, and awareness information on a daily basis. #ShareTheFAACTs with your family and friends, schools, restaurants, doctor offices, etc.

Enjoy Life: Any special advice for someone with food allergies?

Eleanor: You are not alone! I know I felt that way when Thomas was diagnosed 14 years ago, but I learned quickly that we were not alone. There are so many resources available for families from education and advocacy needs to awareness and allergen-friendly food companies, such as Enjoy Life Foods. Get the education needed for you and your family, including grandparents, caregivers, schools, etc. Getting involved in a local support group is another way to find support and resources needed, including online support groups via Facebook. FAACT is here for anyone who needs any advice or guidance managing food allergies and anaphylaxis at home, at school, while traveling, dining out, and more.

Enjoy Life: What is so special about Enjoy Life to you?

Eleanor: Enjoy Life Foods has always been our “go-to” snack foods since Thomas was diagnosed at 19 months of age. We love all of your products. Being from Chicago, we were lucky that Enjoy Life’s headquarters were so close to us. When I founded Camp TAG, I reached out to Scott Mandell, former Enjoy Life Foods CEO and Founder, as we had worked together on other shared initiatives. He was on board with supporting Camp TAG from day 1, and I have been grateful for our partnership ever since. Enjoy Life Foods supports Camp TAG, as well as donates all of the snacks needed for the week, each day for every camper and counselor. We are going into our 8th summer for Camp TAG, and we are honored to have Enjoy Life Foods as our partner.

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