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Updates on House Bill 281, an important food allergy study and a little victory in the lunchroom…

Posted Jan 14 2010 12:20pm

This week I was happy to attend the bimonthly MOCHA meeting (Mothers of Children Having Allergies). I am always amazed at how much I learn every time I go to these meetings. I love learning about the latest research and trends in food allergies, but most importantly I love mingling and talking with other food allergic parents (yes, dads attend too!). Everyone has a story to share, questions to ask and advice to give. I am grateful for the support and hard work of our leaders, Denise Bunning and Anne Thompson, true pioneers in food allergy advocacy.

Some highlights of the meeting:

  • Update on HB281: The Illinois School Code was amended to require that the State Board of Education and the Department of Public Health will develop guidelines for the management of children with Food Allergies. These guidelines will be provided to each school board no later than July 1, 2010, and they will be required to implement a policy based on those guidelines by January 1, 2011. This is a huge step forward in protecting our children at school.
  • Food Allergy Study: The Children’s Memorial Food Allergy Study needs 400 more families to participate in the next year. They already have 600, but need the extra push of families ASAP. The study recently received an important grant from the National Institutes of Health to conduct genetic analysis of families living with food allergies. This information is critical in someday finding a cure. The study is looking for families from all over the United States, not just the Chicago area. Families eligible to participate should have at least one allergic family member under 21-years-old and have both biological parents’ participation. What’s involved? A one-time visit to Children’s Memorial Hospital, with OPTIONAL follow-up visits every one to two years. What are the perks? Other than Target gift cards, validated parking, goody bags for the kids and a super cool food allergy key chain, you can feel good about the fact that your participation may someday change all our lives for the better. Please consider it, and tell your food allergy friends too. Contact Deanna Caruso at 312-573-7755 or visit www.childrensmrc.org/allergy/study .

Finally, I wanted to update you on the recent changes in our lunchroom. The pilot program for the newly introduced soy milk has been a success! Kids are buying it, and there have been several reorders. This is great news, especially since the soy milk is more expensive than the cow’s milk. Also, our head chef lady recently shared a great story. Every time I visit the cafeteria to tell her John is buying lunch that day, I remind her to put aside the veggies for John so they can be served butter-free. She decided a couple of days ago NOT to butter any of the vegetables. Much to her surprise, the kids didn’t even notice and ate them up anyway. At a time when we are dealing with high levels of childhood obesity in our schools, this is a great testament to the fact that if our children are just given the chance…they usually will embrace the change.

Enjoy the week everyone!

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