Many people have found creative ways to help their community through the COVID-19 pandemic. Whether it be the unique ways people showed gratitude to healthcare workers, donating supplies to those in need, or even just making every effort to stay home, people truly tried to protect those around them. That said, the food allergy community is facing a slightly different problem, as our connection isn’t dictated by geography. Without access to each other, or any way of truly knowing which people are a part of the community, it’s a little difficult to take initiative and pay it forward. Given this, we wanted to share some creative ways to support your fellow food allergy families during this difficult time.
Allergy Safe Options
Food banks and soup kitchens aren’t known for being food allergy-safe, and unfortunately, too many people with food allergies are forced to rely on these options. While it might not be possible to sterilize the kitchen or keep all the food safe from cross-contamination, you can still make a difference. By donating foods that are food allergy safe, you are allowing those in need to feel as if they do have an option. For many, food banks are their main source of food, and the last thing they should need to worry about is whether or not they will even be able to eat at all. By providing food banks with food allergy-friendly foods, you are providing those in need with safe, worry-free, options. Sometimes, changing someone’s day starts with a gluten-free roll.
Share Recipes and Ideas
With so many people in quarantine and full cities being put on lockdown, many families are stuck indoors. As any parent knows, this means going a little stir crazy. Children are growing bored of the endless hours spent inside and parents are begging for some quality entertainment. Try collaborating with other food allergy families and exchanging fun recipes and ideas. Maybe find a way to make gluten-free play-doh, or feed your children a really great, dairy-free, mac, and cheese. One of the huge benefits of the internet is its ability to keep us all connected, so now more than ever, take advantage of your food allergy community.
Lend an Ear
One of the most difficult things about being put on lockdown is the loss of a support system. If once, people were constantly surrounded by close friends and family, then today they are left completely alone. For people still learning to deal with their food allergies, having people with similar experiences share their stories can prove to be a huge help. This is especially true for parents. Parents who are just now learning that their children have food allergies are in a constant state of stress and having an experienced parent guide them through the first few months, can really make all the difference.
There are barely a handful of restaurants that offer allergy-safe options. Whether that be completely allergy-free establishments or special accommodating options, not many places offer worry-free food. Given this, during this difficult time, make a conscious effort to support your food allergy-friendly establishments. If this isn’t a weekly option for you, then make a night out of it. Everybody knows the importance of supporting small businesses during this difficult time, and the food allergy community is no different. Order take out, watch a movie and be happy that you showed your support to those that work to support you.
Keep Spreading Awareness
Despite the disruptions to all of our lives, food allergies aren’t going anywhere. It may be hard to focus on something that feels like a part of regular life right now, but food allergy awareness is still as important as ever. Make sure to keep on top of your social media, stay up to date on your food allergy news, and be as aware as ever about the difficulties and breakthroughs in the community. As we saw, Food Allergy Awareness Week, had a great effect on the community, despite the difficult time. In times of hardship, many people turn to their communities, so let us make sure that our community is thriving and ready for anyone who may need a helping hand.
Human beings are social beings and therefore, very naturally, create communities. However, since the .com era, researchers have been exploring the true meaning of community and how the definition has changed since the start of the digital age. If once upon a time, the community was dictated by geography, then today, that is no longer the case. Today, people are able to use social media to create communities that are purely based on shared experiences and interests. That is how the food allergy community was born. With countless online users turning to digital platforms for their food allergy support, the community may look a little different than traditional groups. However, at the end of the day, we are a community and should make every effort to support each other in any way we can.