The Teal Pumpkin Project is Here Locally!

Want to become involved in FARE’s Teal Pumpkin Project, but don’t have the time to paint a pumpkin teal? One of our members is making the reusable pumpkins and selling them for $15-$20 and donating some of the profits to FARE. Email Madelen Salter at for more information or place an order on or

halloween teal pumpkins, madelen

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Let’s Make Halloween Less Scary for Food-Allergic Children

There are many reasons that Halloween can be scary for children – goblins hiding in the dark, frightening ghost stories, and food allergens in their candy bag.

With one in 13 children with a food allergy, many of the kids coming to your door reciting “trick or treat” will be allergic to some of the goodies you hand out. FARE (Food Allergy Research & Education) developed the Teal Pumpkin Project to encourage families to hand out some non-food items to children with food allergies.  Non-food treats can include glow sticks, pencils/pens/markers, stickers, bubbles, erasers, mini slinkees, bouncy balls, bookmarks, and spider rings sold at dollar stores, Amazon, and Oriental Trading.


Communities across the nation have embraced the idea of promoting awareness of food allergies this Halloween by offering a safe alternative to those with food allergies (such as in New York, Virginia, and Ohio). Join the millions of people learning about this campaign here. (FARE’s first Facebook post reached more than 2.7 million people in the first 72 hours and CNN covered the story this week.)

Other ways to keep any children in your household with food allergies safer is to do an “exchange” on your doorstep of the candy they received from trick-or-treating for non-food treats or candies you know are safe for your children. One of our members found candy corn sold at Fresh Market on San Jose Blvd in Mandarin that is made in a peanut-free facility.

Halloween candy, nut free optionHalloween candy, nut free option2

In addition, the following online resources list candy that are free of the top 8 allergens (peanuts, tree nuts, eggs, dairy, wheat, soy, shellfish, fish). However, always read food labels and contact the manufacturer if you have further questions.

Pinterest board by Allergy Cookie

Food Allergy Feast Halloween blog, October 13, 2014 post

Kids with Food Allergies Easter candy blog

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TV Segment Focuses on Food Allergy Awareness

This morning, Andrea Miller and Summer Pachman, of Food Allergy Families of St. Johns, appeared on Jacksonville’s First Coast Living news show.  We aimed to teach the viewers that food allergies is a rising health concern in the U.S. and is not to be confused with food intolerances or sensitivities. Reactions to a food allergy can be life-threatening.

Keeping individuals with food allergies safe, especially the  5.9 million U.S. children with food allergies, by avoiding their allergens can be accomplished with due diligence – including reading ingredient labels closely and hand washing after eating. Ingredient labels can be confusing (such as the two jars of organic chicken stock and conventional chicken stock made by the same manufacturer pictured below with one jar containing milk and one not containing milk).









In addition, hand washing and use of hand wipes after eating can remove food proteins, however, hand sanitizer does not.

Alternative food products are available to avoid the most common allergens, including non-dairy milks and alternative peanut butter spreads.












The upcoming events are occurring in Jacksonville – the Jacksonville Food Allergy Symposium, October 4, 9:30am, University of North Florida and the FARE Walk for Food Allergy, November 22, 10:00am, Nocatee Park.

Symposium flyer jpeg003Walk Flyer002

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Local Political Support for State Food Allergy Policies

Florida State Senator Aaron Bean of Jacksonville supported Florida’s recently-passed law, Emergency Allergy Treatment Act. The law allows such places as restaurants, camps, and amusement parks to store epinephrine (life-saving emergency medicine for allergic reactions) and use it on individuals experiencing an allergic reaction. Allergic Living called the legislation the most “expansive” stock epi law in the country.


We had the opportunity to meet Senator Bean today to thank him for his support of the food allergy community and learn more about the ways the Florida Department of Health is beginning to draft rules on the specifics of the law, such as how to train employees on the use of epinephrine auto-injectors. More news to come on this topic as we learn how the food allergy community in Florida can advocate for our favorite places to implement the law.

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Gluten-Free Labeling Law in Effect

wheat pic

August 5, 2014 marks the first day manufacturers must comply with the FDA requirement that foods and dietary supplements sold in the U.S. that include a claim of gluten-free must contain less than 20 parts per million of gluten. The requirement does not cover non-food items, such as cosmetics, or foods regulated by the USDA, such as meat and poultry.

Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye, barley, and oats (unless the oats are pure, uncontaminated oats).

To learn more, access the FDA Q&A site:


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Food Allergy Expert Presents to Local School Nurses

Food allergy expert, Lynne Heun, from Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE) presented to to St. Johns County school nurses on Tuesday, August 5. This event was courtesy of a grant to our group from FARE. The FARE Family Services Manager presented on topics related to prevention and treatment of a food allergy reaction and inclusion strategies for these students in school. The presentation supplemented the nurses’ annual training prior to school beginning this month.


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FARE National Food Allergy Conference

054The co-leaders of Food Allergy Families of St. Johns were honored to attend the FARE (Food Allergy Research and Education) National Food Allergy Conference in Chicago courtesy of travel scholarships from FARE. We made contacts with other food allergy support group leaders and industry specialists, attended sessions on a variety of food-allergy related topics, and received a number of giveaways.

FARE SG Leaders photo

054 051

We want to share some of the information we gained with the support group and giveaways (attend our summertime pool party, date pending, to receive giveaways). Please contact us to let us know what you would like to learn more about:

Food allergies at school, camp, and college

Food allergies 101 and the science of food allergies

Balancing nutrition with food allergies

Anxiety and emotional reactions to food allergies

Advocating for your child and communicating about food allergies

Other related conditions – asthma, EOE, and Celiac

Food allergy research

FARE’s current priorities




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FARE Walk for Food Allergy Fundraising

Fundraising for the annual FARE Walk for Food Allergy has begun! Our generous neighbor Jennifer and her daughter, Lily, held a lemonade stand and raised more than $200 for food allergy research and education. Lily, who does not have food allergies herself, has many friends with them and wanted to contribute to the cause. This family’s compassion is an inspiration to all of us affected by food allergies.

The fundraising walk will be Saturday, November 22 at Nocatee in Ponte Vedra. Join the Food Allergy Families of St. Johns’ team to walk or raise funds,


Lily’s lemonade stand

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May 7, 2014 · 1:59 pm

April 2nd Interview on NPR

wjct-tri-hThe founder of Food Allergy Families of St. Johns and Dr. Ozdemir of Pediatric Associates of Jacksonville will be discussing food allergies with Melissa Ross of the Jacksonville NPR station, WJCT. Please listen in at 89.9FM at 9am on Wed, April 2 (or view later on


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Open Letter on Food Allergies: No Time to Delay


After just one bite, someone with a food allergy can go into life-threatening anaphylaxis where the airway passages can constrict and cut off the ability to breathe.  On February 7, a child at Holiday Hills Elementary School in the Southside neighborhood of Jacksonville took two bites of a cookie that was provided by a special education aide in her classroom and went into an allergic reaction, ending up in the emergency room.

This child had a diagnosed peanut allergy. School personnel were aware of her allergy and her class was designated “peanut-free.” A sign on the door stated, “Please do not bring any peanuts or products containing peanuts into this classroom.” However, the special education aide, Mary Baxley, brought in a container of peanut butter cookies and sugar cookies. She told investigators that she thought “peanut-free” meant that peanuts could not be loose in the classroom.

This unfortunate incident can be turned into an opportunity for education.  Those people coming in contact with our children in the school system, after-care programs, daycares, summer camps, sports leagues, and playdates must not delay in learning about the prevalence and treatment of food allergies. Urgency exists because approximately one in every 13 children in the U.S. has a food allergy, according to Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE).  That is one to two children in each classroom.  And the number is likely to increase. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported in 2013 that a 50% increase in children with food allergies occurred between 1997 and 2011.  This problem is not going away anytime soon.

Children spend a majority of their waking hours in school and school personnel bear the responsibility of keeping them safe – including teachers, aides, cafeteria assistants, librarians, paraprofessionals, bus drivers, coaches and others.  Adults in these positions of authority are trusted by students.  Given this level of trust, we cannot afford for these individuals to be ignorant or miseducated.  If we tolerate it, a fatality can occur such as in a Virginia school with 7-year old Anmaria Johnson.

When a child is having a food allergy reaction, there is no time to delay in assessing the symptoms and administering proper treatment. Symptoms can affect a variety of the body’s systems and range from hives (skin) to vomiting (stomach) to constricted breathing (throat) to swelling of the lips (mouth) to dizziness (heart) to wheezing (lung). Itching can occur in the throat, mouth, and skin. Mylan (maker of ephinephrine auto-injector Epi-Pen) reports that a life-threatening anaphylaxis could be occurring if two or more of the body’s systems are affected (see image).

Mylan brochure image

Source: Mylan Epi-Pen Auto Injectors brochure, 2012

Epinephrine is the only way to treat life-threatening anaphylaxis (the main ingredient is adrenaline, a naturally occurring hormone in our bodies).  Antihistamines can treat other allergy symptoms, such as itchiness, but does nothing for anaphylaxis. The CDC reported that 25% of anaphylactic reactions occurring in schools happened in children that were not previously diagnosed with a food allergy. These 25% would not have a prescription for epinephrine. The School Access to Epinephrine law signed by President Obama in 2013 allows schools to place epinephrine auto-injectors in schools for children that do not have one designated and prescribed to them (much like the automated external defibrillators in public buildings).

To learn more, visit FARE, Allergy Home, CDC, and American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology.


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