Can you believe it’s almost time for the new school year to start? This summer has flown by! With school season fast approaching, it can be stressful figuring out how food allergies factor in to a new routine. With that in mind, we partnered with Kathy Przywara, the Community Director of Kids with Food Allergies, to bring you information on their mission and how they’re helping families get ready for the school year.
Enjoy Life: What is the mission of Kids with Food Allergies (KFA) and when was it founded?
Kathy: Kids With Food Allergies was founded in 2005, and then merged with the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) in 2013. AAFA is dedicated to improving the quality of life for people with asthma and allergic diseases through support, education, advocacy and research.
Enjoy Life: What is your role at KFA?
Kathy: The KFA online support community has nearly 60,000 registered members and over 100,000 followers on social media. As community director, I cultivate conversations and provide support to ensure people can find the information they are seeking. I also manage KFA’s extensive allergy-friendly recipe collection called Safe Eats.
Enjoy Life: How does KFA work with partners like Enjoy Life?
Kathy: KFA is appreciative of partners like Enjoy Life Foods who help us host allergy-friendly events and support our educational outreach to families. For example, with support from Enjoy Life Foods, we have developed allergy-friendly recipe videos and blogs along with holiday resources to help families celebrate safely.
Enjoy Life: What can you tell us of the work you do surrounding the Back to School season?
Kathy: We have a back-to-school campaign with tips for parents. These tips include how to work with the school to form a partnership and reminders about getting medication forms filled our early. We share resources and information about school health care plans. We share recipes and ideas for packing exciting and nutritious school lunches.
Enjoy Life: How can our community increase awareness and education of food allergies in schools?
Kathy: Our School Planning Zone has many free resources for families and school staff to help with managing food allergies at school. The newest addition is our Teal Classroom™ Kit, available as a free PDF download or printed booklet. Teal is the color of food allergy awareness. Forty-five percent of severe allergic reactions in schools begin in the classroom. A Teal Classroom encourages being safe and inclusive for everyone with food allergies. Our Teal Classroom Kit contains resources for teachers and other staff to promote food allergy awareness at school. It includes:
- Information about why it is important to have food-free classrooms to reduce the risk of food allergy reactions
- Food allergy awareness lessons for grades K-5
- Printable posters, activity sheets and stickers
- Non-food reward ideas
- List of hidden allergens in school craft and art supplies
- List of other food allergy resources
Enjoy Life: Any special advice for teachers who have students with food allergies?
Kathy: Teaching all students about food allergies can also help reduce the prevalence of food allergy bullying. Many children with food allergies are bullied because they are seen as different, and other children don’t understand the seriousness of food allergies. Encouraging safer celebrations can help other children understand that teasing or bullying classmates with food allergies can have serious consequences for everyone involved.
Enjoy Life: What is special about Enjoy Life to you?
Kathy: Enjoy Life has been a pioneer in providing allergy-friendly foods and catapulting them into the mainstream. Being able to easily find trusted safe foods is important to families who manage food allergies.