Saturday, November 28, 2015

SAMPLES

Come out and join us at our next HFAN meeting this Wednesday, December 2, 2015 @ 6:30pm.  We will have lots of samples to hand out (ie. Skeeter, Bona Dea).

Hope all of you had a wonderful and safe Thanksgiving.


Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Monday, October 19, 2015

FARE Houston Walk Volunteer opportunity

Consider joining the fun by volunteering for the FARE Houston walk on Halloween morning.  Please check out the link below and sign up for a shift.  Your time is greatly appreciated.

http://vols.pt/oUE5pK

Thank you!

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Teal Pumpkin Door Hangers

Just in time for Halloween...check out these creative door hangers made by a local support group, Food Allergy Community (FAC) of Friendswood.  The homemade teal pumpkin door hangers are a great way to support Food Allergy Research & Education's (FARE) national campaign, The Teal Pumpkin Project.  The hangers cost $20 and 100% of the proceeds go to FARE!  Please contact Ms. Edwards by October 18, 2015 if you are interested (tuquynh.edwards@gmail.com).  Please indicate your preferred style and quantity.




Monday, September 28, 2015

Walk talk and sample Skeeter Nut Free

With the 10th anniversary Houston FARE walk quickly approaching, our next meeting will focus on the walk.  This is a good time to sign up for the FARE Houston walk on Halloween and take the FARE Teal Pumpkin Project pledge (www.tealpumpkinproject.org).

As a Skeeter Nut Free ambassador, I will be doing a mini presentation and sharing samples!  If you or someone you know would like to know more about Skeeter Nut Free products please email HFAN at www.houstonfoodallergynetwork@gmail.com.  Meanwhile, Skeeter Nut Free products can be purchased at Central Market and on Amazon.  

Happy Fall!

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

**SAVE THE DATE**Houston FARE Walk


**If you want to walk with a team, join team HFAN!**(http://www.foodallergywalk.org/houston2015/hfan)  
We would love to have you.


Event Info - Houston, TX


Saturday, October 31, 2015 *New Date*

Walk Location

Minute Maid Park **New Location**

501 Crawford Street, Houston, TX 77002


Walk Schedule

Check-in/Activities: 7:30am - 9:00am 

Walk Ceremony: 9:00am 
Walk Begins: Immediately Following Ceremony 
The walk will take place rain or shine 

Event Contact Info
Southwest Regional Office - Brett Moore - Regional Development Director Phone:  219-914-7363 Emailbmoore@foodallergy.org



Honorary Walk Chair/Emcee 


Dominique Sachse, News Anchor 

KPRC Local 2

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

The not so friendly skies.

My family recently traveled on American Airlines. Imagine my surprise while reading the airline's in flight magazine regarding their policy, or lack there of, concerning individuals with nut allergies.  The allergy statement was near the end of the magazine, in a tiny box, on a page titled, 'Tips For A Fit Flight'.  Was this a joke?  For an airline, whose own website says "Creating a great airline for you", to make such a bold statement and not even attempt to accommodate a rising population is short sighted.




FARE's recent announcement concerning legislation for safer air travel for those with food allergies could not have been more timely.  Read below.

Air Travel Policies and Airline Access to Epinephrine

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Kendra Scott Gives Back to FARE

Come out and join fellow Houstonians for this fun event.  This is a great opportunity to mingle with friends while supporting a wonderful cause.  Christmas will be here before you know it!


Sunday, May 31, 2015

Action required

This is from Dr. Davis at TCH.....

SB66 allowing for epinephrine auto-injectors in Texas public schools is now on Gov. Abbott's desk for signature.  Would you please email and call Gov. Abbott's office ASAP?  
 
The telephone number to call is 512-463-1782 and also email his office.  Both are preferred. 
 
To email his office go to gov.texas.gov
- click contact
- select - I am registering my opinion (No response required)
- click select
- fill in the contact boxes
- in the issue box - choose Education – Public
- in the comment box please put something asking him to sign SB66 (Sen. Hinojosa and Rep. Crownover) which allows for epinephrine auto-injectors in Texas public schools.
- click send
 
Thank you,
Carla M. Davis, MD

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Looking Back!


Image result for free happy 1 year anniversary images













May was a very busy month for HFAN! As we wrap up "Food Allergy Awareness Month", Houston Food Allergy Network also celebrates a 1 year anniversary! We want to thank everyone that has contributed, read, glanced, liked, and shared HFAN's Blog and Facebook page. For those of you who haven't had a chance to read about how HFAN came into existence, here is a link to our very first post "Welcome All".

How did you bring awareness to "Food Allergies" this month?
We were ecstatic when we found out that FARE had themed "Food Allergy Month" as "Action Hero Month". The theme was fun, and most importantly very empowering for our kiddos. As Nut Eggactly mom shared in her post "Thank You", our "Food Allergy Awareness" week was Action Hero Packed with goodies, crafts and kind deeds. We kicked off the week with bringing community awareness. Our kiddos and a few parents passed out some "Allergen Free & Nut Free" snacks during the morning drop off. "You can S.A.V.E the Day" posters from the FARE website were posted throughout the school campus. We brought awareness to the classroom by sharing the BugaBees with the pre-school students. For the elementary and middle school grades we invited a guest speaker from Texas Children's Hospital Department of Immunology, Allergy and Rheumatology who gave a presentation on food allergy facts and shared an excellent kid friendly video, Kids Living with Food Allergies. We even managed to squeeze in a school wide fundraising event and raised over $300 for FARE. 

Overall it was a great week! I hope that our efforts will continue to have an impact in our community and make our school safer for our kiddos and for those families who will come behind us.

As we wrap up "Food Allergy Awareness Month" I would like to close with a
Thank you to:
the dad that shared with my son how yummy the "allergy free" treats were...
the mom who suggested a "peanut allergy friendly" restaurant as a gathering place...
the teacher who suggested that we use the same cupcake wrapper as the rest of the students so our kids wouldn't feel left out...
the dad that admitted that he thought "dairy allergy" was the same as "lactose intolerant" and took the time to understand what it actually meant...
the mom who gave me the coolest insulated bag for mothers day, it has made it so much easier to transport food wherever we go...
the student who told his parents that he didn't want to pack food that could make his friend sick...

I take comfort in knowing that some impact is better than no impact at all.

We hope that you can join us at our next meeting! 

Dairy Allergy Mom














.





Friday, May 8, 2015

Thank You!

Skeeter Nut Free products can now be found at Central Market on Westheimer Road

Many thanks to Skeeter Nut Free and Enjoy Life for supplying samples for Food Allergy Awareness Week!  Your samples will be used to fill 60 food allergy awareness bags and remaining samples will passed out to parents during morning drop-off.  Dairy Allergy Mom and myself are grateful for your generosity.  Because of you, our efforts to raise awareness are made easier and sweeter!  Thank you.

Food allergy awareness bags: "I'm Fighting Food Allergies"

Products in the awareness bags





Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Take Action!

In celebration of Food Allergy Awareness Month, below is an opportunity to take action.  

The Epinephrine Bill, HB 2847 (Rep. Crownover) is now before the Texas House and will be up for a vote this Friday, May 8.
 
Please contact your Texas House Representative IMMEDIATELY to urge passage of HB 2847 on Friday.  Please contact your representative by both phone and email, if possible.  Please cite both the number (HB2847) and the author (Rep. Crownover) of the bill.
 
You can find the contact info for your Texas House Representative at this link:  http://www.fyi.legis.state.tx.us/mnuAddress.aspx
 
Thank you in advance for your help in passing this important legislation.





 

Thursday, April 30, 2015

***Upcoming Event** Food Allergy Awareness Week, May 10-16, 2015


SUPERHEROES UNITE TO FIGHT FOOD ALLERGIES!  

Courtesy of FARE

Are you ready for the challenge? 

Join Dairy Allergy mom and myself on Monday, May 4, 2015, as we discuss various ways to take action during Food Allergy Action Month, May 2015.



Thursday, April 9, 2015

Food Allergy Awareness Week Proclamation 2015


I was delighted when I received this proclamation in the mail a couple of weeks ago.  You can get one too by visiting www.foodallergy.org, highlight the Tools & Resources tab, locate the Awareness Programs heading from the dropdown menu, then click on Food Allergy Awareness Week.  Here you will find the Request A Proclamation button.  Find your state and get started raising awareness.

For additional suggestions and ideas on how to get involved with raising awareness, click on the Take Action button.  Chances are good that you are already doing something to educate and inspire others about food allergies!



Friday, March 27, 2015

Thinking about summer camp?

When you have kids and are trying to figure out summer plans in the late winter/early spring, you are sort of catapulted straight into summertime.  Living in a large city like Houston, fortunately, there are many options for summer camps.  With that said, the field is narrowed by food allergies.  There is a lot to consider when deciding to send your child to camp.  My husband and I did not grow up going to summer camp so this was new territory for us.  How do you know which camp is right when your child has food allergies?  The questions started flowing and my mind started roaming.  We decided that the camp had to be close to our home, not far from a hospital, a staff knowledgable and comfortable with food allergies/using an epi pen and a staff receptive to my questions (I always have ALOT)!

I am a planner and find comfort in checking off my checklists (I might be a bit OCD:)), I wanted to share my mini camp checklist.  Here are some questions to consider when planning a safe and fun summer camp experience for your child:

1.  What is your child into right now (ie. LEGO's, princesses, learning a foreign language, creative writing, art, sports, etc...).

2. Are you or your child interested in a full day or a half day of camp?  Will your child be eating a snack/lunch during their stay?

3. What is your budget?

4. Contact camp director to schedule a pre-camp meeting to discuss your child's food allergies and plan. This is a good time to bring your child's action plan with their picture attached and emergency kit(s) to review with nurse, counselor, etc.

5. Can the camp adequately meet your child's health needs?  Do you feel comfortable with the camp and the counselor?

6. Will the counselor carry the epi pens/emergency kit if child too young to carry epi pen?

7. Is there a nurse available during camp hours?

8. Prepare your child (age appropriate)---wear food allergy bracelet, label ALL food items, including drinks, do not share food, save all edible rewards from camp until a parent/guardian can double check the ingredients, wash hands before and after snack and meals.

Our son (allergic to tree nuts, peanuts, and sesame') has attended week long camps at the Houston Arboretum, Duchesne's Dash Into Summer, and KidVenture.  I know it is a small sample but it has been a good start.  We have many positive comments about all of these camps and their staff.

Below is some useful information regarding summer camps mentioned:

Houston Arboretum 2015 Nature Camps
www.houstonarboretum.org

Dash Into Summer/Duchesne Academy 
Sarah Baker--Director of DASH 
www.duchesne.org/summer

KiDVENTURE
www.kidventure.com


Please share any camp experiences you may have.  Also, our April 2015 meeting will be brainstorming and planning Food Allergy Awareness Week/May 2015!  Hope to see you there!




Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Support SB 66

Hello friends.  The time is now for our voices to be heard in support of stocking epinephrine auto-injectors in our TX schools!  Below is the email from FARE requesting support for SB 66.  If you do not want to become a member of FARE, please read the email sent from Dr. Carla Davis of Texas Children's Hospital, director of TCH Food Allergy Program.



Dear Friends of FARE in Texas:

A bill has been introduced in the Texas legislature that would require all public and open-enrollment charter schools to maintain a supply of undesignated epinephrine auto-injectors for use in emergencies. 

This bill, SB 66, will be heard on the morning of Thursday, March 12 by the state Senate Education Committee. We would like your help in encouraging committee members to vote in favor of this bill. You may visit the FARE Action Center and click on the Texas alert to send a message directly to Education Committee members. If you are not already a member of FARE’s Advocates Network please register first. We ask you to do this at your earliest convenience. You can read the bill language here. 

Please share this email with other food allergy families across Texas. Also, please let us know if you have any questions. You may contact me at jjobrack@foodallergy.org.



Sincerely, 

Jennifer Jobrack
National Director of Advocacy

Food Allergy Research & Education



From: Davis, Carla M 
Sent: Tuesday, March 10, 2015 12:40 PM
To: IAR
Subject: Epinephrine in Texas Schools – Your Help Is Needed!

Dear All,

I am asking for your help. Senate Bill 66 has been introduced in the Texas legislature that would require all public and open-enrollment charter schools to maintain a supply of undesignated epinephrine auto-injectors for use in emergencies. Children with food and insect allergy are at increased risk.

On September 12, 2013 a middle school student athlete named Cameron Espinoza (Jersey #66)  in Corpus Christi, Texas was stung by fire ants on a school football field while participating in a school sponsored football game.  He immediately developed a severe systemic allergic reaction and no epinephrine was available until EMS arrived.  During the delay, the child went into shock and respiratory failure.  He died four days later.  Had he received immediate treatment with epinephrine at the football field, his likelihood of survival would have dramatically improved.

PLEASE SUPPORT THIS BILL by sending a message to the Texas Education Committee who will hear the bill on Thursday. (See below.) PLEASE click the link below, personalize the letter and send, or, if you do not want to register with FARE, personalize and send the attached letter to your own senator and representative. If you do not know who this is, please click the following link: http://openstates.org/find_your_legislator/

Thank you in advance for considering this request.

Sincerely,
Carla


Carla M. Davis, MD
Assistant Professor of Pediatrics
Director, Texas Children's Hospital Food Allergy Program



Friday, February 13, 2015

Disney Does It Again...Our Allergy Friendly Vacation

The Magic Kingdom.  Can you find the EpiPen Auto-injector?

The primary focus of this post is to highlight our allergy friendly experiences while vacationing in Walt Disney World.  It's called the 'most magical place on earth' for a reason.  The entire experience was top notch.  Our kids had more food choices than their little minds could comprehend!

My husband and I always knew that we wanted to return to Disney World someday with our kids.  After discussing when we should plan our visit, it became evident to us that the ages 6 and 3 seemed to be the right of passage.  Those were the ages of my sister and I when we first visited Disney World and those of my husband and his sister.  Our trip coincided perfectly with our son's 6th birthday.  After squeezing in a party on his birthday, we left the following day donning our best Mickey attire.

Planning a trip to Disney World can be overwhelming.  Vacations are supposed to be an escape from the day to day life, right?  In the beginning stages I knew that I would need a vacation from this vacation, or so it seemed at the time.  I was a mom during the day and a travel agent at night!  I am not an overly spontaneous person so the idea of showing up in Disney World with nothing planned during the busiest time of year, a party of 7 and two kids with food allergies was insane!  The pressure was on to plan a fun trip that was food allergy safe.

Our trip occurred the week between Christmas and New Year.  I was warned by many that this was the busiest time of the year and #1 on the 'when NOT to visit Disney World' list.  Honestly, my husband and I were not bothered by this since our kids really did not know enough of what to expect other than my three year old insisting that we meet Elsa and Anna.  (I had already started prepping her that they might be stuck in a snowstorm in the event the lines were impossibly long to wait--she just smiled and said 'I can't wait to meet them'!)  Our party of 7 included my parents and my sister.  My husband and I felt that we had plenty support to conquer Mickey and friends!

I started planning our trip with booking our hotel.  We stayed at the Waldorf Astoria.  Not only was it was beautiful, the attentiveness of the staff was superb.  When booking our reservations, I had alerted the agent of our kids' food allergies.  The agent informed me to contact the food services team closer to our travel dates, which I did 3 weeks prior to our arrival.  I exchanged several emails with Robin, the Food and Beverage Administrative Assistant.  I clearly stated what our kids food allergies were and she provided me with several options while dining on site at Oscar's.  I appreciated her personal email and attention to details.  On a side note, the transportation to and from the parks was comfortable (no fees, just tips).  We found it relaxing to be 'off-campus' and did not mind the 15 minute bus rides.  The best part for me was being able to roll my jogging stroller (completely loaded down with snacks and STUFF) into the cargo space of the bus without having to fold it.  Small detail, but convenient.

It's funny when you tell people that your going to Disney World, all of the advice and recommendations that emerge.  I heard some of it, but then my brain turned to mush from DISNEY OVERLOAD!  The reality is, what is great for my family may not be great for yours, vice versa.  I had to focus on planning a trip that would accommodate my kids' food allergies (tree nuts, peanuts, eggs and sesame').  The one piece of advice that I found helpful was to make our dining reservations early since we would be traveling during the peak season.  After reading what felt like hundreds of blogs about Disney World (Disneyworld.com) and blogs about visiting Disney with food allergies (allergyfreemouse.com), I had a better understanding of what to expect.  We had 3 days to visit Disney parks.  We chose the Magic Kingdom (2 days) and Epcot.  This was when my travel agent skills emerged.  I was laser focused on planning our meals and decided to let the rest of our visit just happen.

Because we stayed 'off campus', the earliest we could book our reservations was 180 days in advance (on campus folks have extra privileges).  Sounds crazy, huh?  Well, during my weeks of reading all of those blogs, I learned a few tricks to booking:  persistence is key and in order to make your online dining reservation you will need to set up an account at My Disney Experience beforehand.  Familiarize yourself with the site as you will thank yourself later.  Our 180 day mark fell smack dab in the middle of our Fourth of July vacation!  Even more exciting was that I was suffering from a horrible sinus infection.  Miraculously, I mustered up the energy each morning, 5 AM central time to be exact, to ready my smart phone for making those dining reservations.  I kept seeing my kids' faces meeting the characters and found the energy I needed, while hanging half out of bed trying to get good internet connection (we were at a fishing camp on a bayou in South Louisiana).

Learning from many food blogs that I had read, I made a dining A-list and a B-list.  I based them on their food allergy friendly reviews and the characters we wished to see.  I am glad that I did this because I did NOT get many A-list choices.  I quickly went to my B-list and got all of them.  In the event you find your A-listers available later, you can change your reservations.  For each reservation that I made (including Downtown Disney), I was able to indicate that someone in my party had a food allergy under special dietary requests.  When we arrived for each dining reservation, the staff already knew about our food allergies and the manager or the chef came to our table to discuss dining options.  We encountered this for EVERY reservation made!   My husband and I were completely amazed at how effortless this seemed for the staff.

Here are the places we dined and how we ranked them out of five stars.

Downtown Disney  

Bongo's Cuban Cafe' (***)

The food was very tasty but the restaurant was short staffed and therefore the staff seemed stressed.  They were attentive to our food allergy needs but I was not overly confident of the follow through.  I gave it three stars for the lack of service.  We ate without incident and the food was tasty.  The kids enjoyed the blinking cups and that they could press a button on their cups to change the lights.

Magic Kingdom

Be Our Guest (*****)

This place, of all of the ones we dined, impressed my husband and I the most.  They do not take lunch reservations (dinner reservations highly recommended).  We decided to wait 45 minutes in a cold, light mist for lunch in Belle's castle.  We were all glad we did!  When we entered the castle we were greeted by a hostess, who promptly directed us to an available computer to place our order.  The menu was easy to navigate and there was a box to check for food allergies.  Once we checked the the food allergy box we could select the allergen(s) to avoid.  It was at this time that the chef came to the computer we were standing and assisted us in our selections and recommended safe lunch options for our kids.  If that was not enough, the chef saw the food through the entire process, delivered it to our table with a friendly smile and a little food allergy flag inserted into each of the kids meals.  He brought a variety of Enjoy Life cookies for the kids to have for dessert.  The service I had read about was real!  The kids were so mesmerized with the castle and seeing the enchanted rose that lunch was an afterthought.  As for the rest of our party, we thought that the food was delicious.  My sister and I each had the French Onion soup with a quinoa cake.  One of our kids had tomato soup and the other had a grilled cheese.

The Plaza Restaurant (****)

Not an overly large restaurant, but it was cozy and the staff was outstanding.  After being seated, our waitress asked my husband and I who were the two in our party with food allergies.  We pointed to the kids and she immediately spoke to them, not us, about different choices they could have for dinner.  She brought me laminated sheets listing of all of the restaurant's food items and their ingredients.  The chef came out a few minutes later to see if we had any questions.  He made recommendations to us and asked the kids what they wanted to order.  I truly think my kids thought they were famous.  The chef delivered the food here as well, complete with a food allergy flag:)  Then the chef said that he would return to take our dessert order.  While enjoying our dinner, Cinderella's castle lit up the evening sky resembling Elsa's ice palace in FROZEN!  I thought my daughter was going to fall out of her chair!!!!  We had met Elsa and Anna that morning.  Dessert was certainly an afterthought at this point but warmly welcomed when it arrived.

Cosmic Ray's Starlight Cafe' (**)

This is a quick service establishment that had lines out of the door the day we ate lunch there.  When it was our turn to order, I mentioned that my kids had food allergies.  I was given a sign to hold up indicating that someone in our party had food allergies and was politely asked to step aside.  Within 3 minutes, a manager came to take our order and note our dietary needs.  Then we stepped back into our place in the line.  The manager told us that she would be the one to follow our food through until the end.  Our trays were purple and the others were teal (I think).  The service was remarkable but unfortunately the food was not too great.

Chef Mickey's (***)

Located in the Contemporary Resort, this buffet style restaurant delivered on their service, desserts and entertainment, but not the buffet.   The service was what we had come to expect; be seated and wait for the chef or the manager.  When the chef appeared he proudly walked me through the entire buffet, including the impressive dessert station!  He pointed out safe foods for our kids to eat.  The chef was very informative and said that if we had any further questions to ask for him.  As dinner progressed,  we settled into an evening filled with music, dessert and meeting Mickey and friends!


Epcot
Can you find the EpiPen Auto-injector?

Akershus Royal Banquet Hall (****)

This hidden gem came recommended by a friend.  I am glad I heard her!  Upon arrival, we had our picture taken with Belle then were surprisingly greeted by 4 other princesses once seated!  They all stopped by our table, at different times, for a photo-op.  Akershus was worth the money.  It was nice to experience a taste of Norway (buffet of appetizers).  There was more food here than one could possibly want!  Lots of great choices on the menu and a festive atmosphere completed our experience.  In addition to the superb service, I really appreciated the entire plate of assorted allergy friendly cookies that our server brought for our kids' dessert.  Turned out they were Enjoy Life cookies.  The kids did not know this.  I know is seems like no big deal, but my son (6) refers to them as 'allergy' friendly cookies.  For me to watch our kids be included so effortlessly was heartwarming.

Coral Reef (****)

We were pleasantly surprised with our relaxing and tasty meal at Coral Reef.  This full service restaurant was perfect for our late night (8:40 PM) dinner.  There's something about watching fish swim around so gracefully that soothes the mind.  The chef was very accommodating and knowledgable.  The fish we ordered was fresh and delicious.  Our kids really enjoyed their grilled fish and fries.  Coral Reef was a great ending to a fabulous trip.

Overall, our trip to Disney was truly an allergy friendly experience!  Even though we did not get to try a Baby Cakes cake to celebrate our son's birthday (he really wants a cake from a bakery), we were all delighted with our vacation.  We encountered the nicest, most service oriented people in the world!  Everywhere that we went we encountered polite staff who were eager to serve and went above and beyond to provide us with impeccable service.  Walt Disney World's attention to detail and their ability to include EVERYONE made our vacation dreamy.  Our kids loved the parks and dining out was no big deal.  The latter is what made the trip so memorable for me.  The kids were included in every aspect of the trip but more importantly to have choices like everyone else proved magical.  Sometimes the smallest things make us smile the biggest!  Turns out I did not need a vacation from our vacation.








May is Food Allergy Awareness month!

Food Allergy Awareness month is upon us.  Be vocal, wear teal and check out some of these local events. A raffle drawing will be held...