Health Program Helps Families Treat Food Allergies
When Maggie Moore’s three-year-old son, Isaac, was diagnosed with Eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE) in 2016, the prescribed treatment was an overnight change in his diet —a significant and costly change: remove gluten, soy, dairy and eggs.
Maggie and her family had very little knowledge of allergy-friendly diets, and the two grocery stores in their small town of Chillicothe, Missouri, didn’t offer the kind of food they needed. After a lot of research and questioning, Maggie met with a dietician, who told her about Food Equality Initiative.
Food Equality Initiative (FEI), started by two Kansas City mothers, Amy Goode and Emily Brown, who met at a food-allergy support group, is a public health organization that aims to make safe food more accessible to those in need. In 2015, Amy and Emily opened Renewed Health, the country’s very first allergy-friendly food pantry, located in Kansas City.
“I went to FEI and met Emily and not only was the food access itself a blessing, but also the information,” Maggie said.
Emily Brown, one of the founders of FEI, personally worked with Maggie and Isaac any time the family made the two-hour trip from Chillicothe to FEI, which they did regularly for 18 months. Emily helped the family understand what they could eat, what to look for on labels and what to prepare for meals. She put Maggie in contact with someone to help get Isaac a 504 plan in place at his school. A 504 is a formal blueprint for providing special needs children the support they need.
“With a small child, you’re their advocate,” Maggie said. “FEI helped counsel me through the rollercoaster that is parenting a child who is diagnosed with these types of allergies. You have to develop new food rules in your home. The information was probably the biggest advantage. I was a good cook, but it was very challenging when we had cut out all four food groups.”
With the help of FEI, Isaac is healthy and now on a less restrictive diet, and Maggie has become a great resource in her own community for other parents and families who face similar challenges.