Article excluding food allergic children from Potlucks

Posted on: Fri, 06/21/2002 - 12:04am
smack's picture
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Posted on: Fri, 06/21/2002 - 1:27am
California Mom's picture
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Oh my goodness!!! I had to read the article twice before I realized the implications. My mind mistakenly read "I've invited almost everyone I know who have children WITH severe food allergies". I was quite dumfounded, then, by the remarks about pb & j sandwhiches and trail mix, and having kids sit by themselves. Wow! It sort of feels like a slap in the face. Just go ahead and plan a party that entails no work, but oh: be sure not to invite those with food allergies; then you'd have to do some work after all. wouldn't want to spoil the joy of getting together during these lazy days of summer, now would we?! [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/eek.gif[/img] O.K., now I've said my piece. Thanks (but no thanks [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/wink.gif[/img]) for sharing this lovely piece of journalism. Miriam

Posted on: Fri, 06/21/2002 - 2:08am
smack's picture
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I could only put the link up and didn't have time to add my reply(phone rang, had to work out, shower, feed the kids before school)
Anyway, Miriam, exactly! That's how I took this person's idea of planning a get together with friends and family whom she like to see more often(forget about the work involved if lo and behold some poor child had a food allergy).
I really doubt too much anyone really truly likes this person if they treat minorities with a form of exclusion and unwanted demeanor.
These people tend to be prejudice in everything. Pray for the children from families like these.
[This message has been edited by smack (edited June 21, 2002).]

Posted on: Fri, 06/21/2002 - 11:36am
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I also truly couldn't believe what I read. Who would want a "friend" like that? It is truly amazing the insensitive people we run into on a daily basis isn't?
Karen

Posted on: Fri, 06/21/2002 - 2:13pm
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I think the author didn't really mean to come off sounding uncaring- at least she's aware the this option may be(is) unsafe for a child with severe food allergy(ies.) She wants simple, safe, carefree, easy, gathering of friends. That's her choice.
There are less carefree choices for those of us dealing with a family member with severe food allergies.- there are still choices, well planned for increased safety. There ways to reduce risks, communicate what allergist deams reasonable and there are groups and some extended family members who show they care by trying follow those safety guidelines. Especially when dealing with one or more of the arosolized food allergens.
I usually bring everything my allergic son eats (and utensils to eat with etc.)
My son had a wonderful time at his older nephews graduation party-every attempt was made to avoid his four arosolized allergens. He played lots with a boy about his age- who helped to eat some of the food I prepared for my son. The other child had never heard of someone being allergic to the cake but accepted when I assured my it is true. We didn't make a big deal of it. My son had plenty to eat and had fun. No contact reasons etc even though someone invited to party brought there own Peanutbutter and jelly sandwich for child who is picky eater(most likely the boy my son made friends with- we found the sandwich unopened later on- I'm glad I always fix more safe food then I think my son can eat to share.
Potlucks make my nervous- I'm so glad that Boy scout troop "potluck" was changed to pizza and donations cover costs. The last Board of review only two cheese balls with nuts there- I'm sure that it was brought by someone unaware of issue and leader will be FYIing in future.
I've rambled on enough. Take Care,
Jandy

Posted on: Sat, 06/22/2002 - 1:43pm
CVB in CA's picture
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This web page is sponsored by a public TV station at the University of Utah. I am emailing the editor, just a polite note to say it is a very discrimmatory statement.

Posted on: Sun, 06/23/2002 - 12:06am
California Mom's picture
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Thanks for the info., I was planning to check the article when I had time to see who I could e-mail my response to. I will also be polite and indicate that I think it is great that the author has suggestions for fun, stress free times to spend with friends, however...
This article has been on my mind a lot. I keep thinking how my daughter would feel if she knew that a lot of friends were getting together for a picnic but didn't invite her because they thought her food allergies would spoil the fun. That's what gets me so upset.

Posted on: Sun, 06/23/2002 - 12:30am
California Mom's picture
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O.K., here is my letter. I feel so much better for having sent it!
Dear Editor,
I appreciated Tree Brown Hayes's ideas for planning stress free family get togethers in her article "Daily Bread". As a busy mom I know how quickly the summer can pass by without having had a chance to do all the fun socializing that seemed so certain at summer's beginning. However, as the mom of a seven year old with a severe allergy to peanuts and nuts I was dismayed to read Hayes's comment that she invites almost everyone she knows "whose children do not have severe food allergies". I thought about how hurt and confused my daughter would be if she knew that lots of our friends were meeting twice a month for picnics but didn't include her because they didn't want to go to the effort of making sure she would be safe. In other words, their stress free fun was more important than her company.
It does take a little time and effort to try to provide a safe atmosphere for people with severe food allergies at a pot-luck picnic. However, it can be done quite easily. Most parents of kids with severe food allergies would bend over backwards to provide whatever safe foods were needed to make sure their kids could be included. Generally speaking, as long as the allergic child has his or her own safe food to eat, and the other kids aren't eating something messy and sticky (peanut butter is the most common "offending food") that he or she is allergic to, the gathering can be a safe and fun environment for all.
Schools and other public places have laws governing against discrimination towards those with disabilities. Of course, these laws do not apply to friends' plans. I feel so fortunate that my friends and family have shown much greater sensitivity than has the author. I hope Hayes will think about the messages and values she is sending her children when she shows them that the best thing to do is to keep things simple, and if that means not including those with special needs, so be it.
I hope in the future the editors will be aware of this type of discrimination and will not encourage such view points by publishing them.
Sincerely, Miriam xxxxxx

Posted on: Sun, 06/23/2002 - 4:19am
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sent 6/22/02 to [email]editor@familyutah.com[/email]
Dear Editor,
I was feeling all wonderful as I started reading Tree Brown Hayes' article on summer pot lucks... all the talk of "being human" and "socializing with people I really care about" really struck a chord with me as I thought about "maintaining connections with others". What wonderful advice during these sometimes hectic summer days. But when I read that this should exclude families who have children with severe food allergies, I had to reread it. Was I reading this correctly? I reread it again. It hit me like a ton of bricks. I understand that the author's intention was probably to protect children and families who have this life-threatening disability, but I must say that it broke my heart to see it there in black and white, especially in the author's context that we can all make efforts to extend ourselves to others.
As the mother of an 8 year old daughter with severe nut allergies (especially peanuts), it's true that pot lucks are very challenging situations. But our daughter can usually safely attend as long as she adheres to some safety rules that we've developed, including that she doesn't eat any foods that don't have an ingredient label and that we always have her medication (epi-pen) with us. So our family's general rule is that can can attend pot lucks, but can't eat the foods that others bring.
While I appreciate bringing up the concept of severe food allergies in this article, please don't automatically exclude us because of them. We're trying to teach our child to navigate life in this nut-filled world, and we can use your support and understanding in this challenging endeavor. Children with food allergies and their parents can be quite adept at handling these challenges and we find wonderful solutions (like we usually bring not just one but 3 or 4 delicious and safe dishes that our child can safely eat and share). Instead of excluding us, perhaps you might just not be offended when a food-allergic child says "no thank you" to your dish-- even when you explain that you have gone to extreme precautions for it to be "safe" just for them. And help us teach our children, by example, that there is a lot of positive support in the world that helps us all overcome our personal challenges, whether they be food allergies or anything else.
Sincerely,
Gail W.
St. Louis, MO
[This message has been edited by Gail W (edited June 25, 2002).]

Posted on: Wed, 06/26/2002 - 1:10am
CVB in CA's picture
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I did not even recieve an automated response from familyutah to my email. Anyone else get anything?

Posted on: Wed, 06/26/2002 - 2:20am
Love my C's picture
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Well, I just now got a response to my "not so nice nor eloquent e-mail to them. [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/redface.gif[/img] Wish I would have written something more gracious as Gail W. did but anyway...
Here is their response:
Thank you for your feedback. The author's comment relating to food allergies was inappropriate. Her comment was not intended to be malicious but was instead included because of her real concern for those with food allergies. Instead of suggesting the exclusion of those with food allergies, the column could have suggested parents make note of the ingredients in the potluck item they contribute in case those with food allergies need that information.
Recognizing that food allergies are a great concern to many, we'd like to write an article on the subject. If contacted, would you be willing to be a source for the article?

Posted on: Wed, 06/26/2002 - 5:28am
Gail W's picture
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Thanks for the kind word, LovemyC! I received the exact same letter as you, so both our approaches were equally successful. I was really happy to learn that they're interested in doing a follow up story. I hope this opportunity can reach its potential. I'll be sure to let you know if/when I hear anything else and would be curious to know if anyone else hears from them.
Gail
[This message has been edited by Gail W (edited June 26, 2002).]

Posted on: Wed, 06/26/2002 - 6:55am
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I too got the same reponse. How refreshing for someone to say that what they printed was inappropriate and that they are eager to write an article on the topic.

Posted on: Wed, 06/26/2002 - 7:19am
California Mom's picture
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I, too, got the same response, and I am thrilled! Yes, it was refreshing indeed. Here was my reply:
Mr. Posselli,
Thank you so much for your kind and sincere concern for those with food
allergies. I appreciate that the author did not intend to be malicious, and
I hope that she now realizes her error.
I am pleased that you are planning an article on the subject of food
allergies and I would be very happy to contribute in any way.
Thank you so much,
Miriam xxxxxx

Posted on: Tue, 07/02/2002 - 10:08am
Gail W's picture
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I received this email today, July 2, from Todd Posselli of Utah Family:
"Hi Gail. I received your message. Susan Williams, our editor, will be writing the article regarding food allergies. She plans to write one article for use in our publication and another she'll be submitting for consideration to a national parenting publication. We appreciate your willingness to help out. Susan will be in contact, but she will likely not get started until after the July 4th holiday.
Thanks again,
Todd Posselli "
Just an update FYI. Sounds encouraging!

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