Photo by John Hilton
Food Allergy Inspires Mom to Create Nonprofit
Lisa Ficke is a mom on a mission. As the founder of Food Allergy Resources and Mentoring, a new local 501(c)(3) nonprofit, she is working to spread awareness of the growing food allergy epidemic and provide a voice for those who live with food allergies.
The number of people who have a food allergy is growing, but there is no clear answer as to why. According to a study released in 2013 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, food allergies among children increased approximately 50 percent between 1997 and 2011. A reaction to food can range from a mild response (such as an itchy mouth) to anaphylaxis, a severe and potentially deadly reaction that affects several areas of the body and may threaten breathing and blood circulation. There is no cure for food allergies; strict avoidance of problem foods is the only way to prevent a reaction of any kind.
Lisa’s daughter Sophia has an anaphylaxis allergy to milk, similar to peanut allergy that many are familiar with. Even the touch of a milk protein can cause Lisa’s daughter to have a reaction. She was diagnosed when she was six months old and since then Lisa has dealt with the challenges of dealing with misperceptions and lack of knowledge about the allergy epidemic. Lisa began a blog, 365 Days with a Food Allergy, and the response was tremendous. She knew she needed to do something to provide a voice for an entire community of families.
Food Allergy Resources and Mentoring hopes to keep the topic of food allergies ongoing by hosting outreach and events to promote positive changes and mindfulness in our communities. The organization’s first event was an Easter Egg Hunt for families with nonedible prizes inside the eggs. Lisa will host a 5K in November that will be safe for those with allergies.
“Food shouldn’t trump humanity,” Lisa said. “People somehow don’t understand that our lifestyle is not simply a choice, but a life preserver that keeps our little girl alive and breathing day to day.”
Her daughter’s food allergy heightened her awareness of what she and her family were eating, and in return they began to eat much better.
“A friend of mine said to me, ‘your daughter’s allergy may save your life,’” Lisa said. “That could very well be true.”
Food Allergy Facts:
- Eight foods account for 90 percent of all reactions: milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, soy, wheat, fish and shellfish. Even trace amounts of a food allergen can cause a reaction.
- A food allergy can begin at any age.
- The U.S. Centers for Disease Control reported that food allergies result in more than 300,000 ambulatory-care visits a year among children under the age of 18.
- Teenagers and young adults with food allergies are at the highest risk of fatal food-induced anaphylaxis. Source: FoodAllergy.org
No Limits 5K: Fostering Understanding, Education and Growth!
November 8, 8 a.m.
Pelican Coast course, Satellite Beach
Food Allergy Resources and Mentoring
Fa-Resources.org | Facebook.com/FaResources