Another November, another wonderful FARE Summit! Last weekend, I had the opportunity to return to FARE’s annual conference to speak about going to college with food allergies. This year, two more college students (Aly and Caroline) joined our panel in addition to Allison and Anna, who spoke with me last year. Together, we formed a very well-rounded group of college experiences and could answer questions about all kinds of college-related topics. It’s so fun being able to help out teens trying to figure out how to safely approach the college process and college life, and tell them all the do’s and don’ts with managing food allergies while away from home.
In addition to being a speaker, I got to learn all about several allergy-related topics during the sessions. Some of the highlights include a session about managing an allergy-free bakery from a business perspective, understanding food labeling laws, and of course the ever famous teen social. Like last year, they accomplished the incredible feat of feeding a diverse collection of allergies for lunch, this time with a really high quality build your own tacos. I also really enjoyed the inspiring key-note from Gian Paul Gonzalez, a New Jersey high school history teacher who is famous for the motivational speech he gave to the NY Giants before they won the Super Bowl in 2011. He talked about his “all in” philosophy and how people with allergies can do whatever they want in life if you’re all in because you’ll find a way to work around you allergies to achieve your goals.
This year I also had the opportunity to join a focus group discussion about the app/website AllergyEats https://www.allergyeats.com/ which helps users find restaurants that are safe from their allergens using reviews and rankings from other users with allergies who have visited before. They have a lot of cool plans in the works, and it was such a great experience to be able to work with them as they made their future plans.
I cannot say enough about the positive impact that attending these conferences has had for me as I grew from a high school freshman to a college junior (yikes!). It’s so great that FARE provides this opportunity to connect with other people in the food allergy community and learn from their experiences. I’m so glad I got to spend time with old friends and meet new people for such a great weekend.