What is S.A.F.E.?
S.A.F.E. is a multi-pronged, innovative, and holistic organization created to help aid people whose lives are impacted by food allergies. S.A.F.E. functions through an all-in-one app I developed, housing a multitude of strategically thought out resources for the different types of people utilizing S.A.F.E. Overall, S.A.F.E. has 2 initiatives, and I will list what each is, as well as the why and how, for each below.
S.A.F.E.’s mission is as the acronym entails, to Supply Allergy Food and Education; but really though, there could be two e’s at the end, as S.A.F.E. mission is to supply allergy food and education to EVERYONE. Of course, while everyone with food allergies will always have to be extra cautious because of them, to ensure they are SAFE, S.A.F.E.’s mission is to provide them with resources that will make this task of managing and thriving with them much less daunting and actually an achievable feat.
S.A.F.E. envisions a world where those with food allergies are able to experience the fleeting moments of life without having to worry about their food allergies hindering them back in any unnecessary way. S.A.F.E. envisions a world where:
S.A.F.E.'s Supplying Allergy Food Initiative
S.A.F.E.'s App and Food Pantry Section
(What) S.A.F.E.'s food insecurity initiative is focused on making sure everyone that has food allergies has access to food allergy-friendly food.
(Why) Currently, food insecurity is one of the top problems plaguing the world, but a specific group of people facing this problem are being overlooked, people with food allergies. Food allergy-friendly food is exceedingly more expensive than regular food, take the average cost of 1lb of regular flour, $0.44, to the average cost of 1lb or gluten-free flour, $3.63, that's a 725% increase in cost, a cost many can't afford to live with. Due to this, many people with food allergies can't afford food that is safe for them. This leads to many people with food allergies relying on food pantries for a steady source of food to eat. The problem with this though is that most food pantries 1) don't have enough allergen-friendly food, and 2) the allergy-friendly food they do have isn’t sorted into designated sections, resulting in it getting mixed in with the general donations and taken by people who may not necessarily need allergen-free goods. This results in people with food allergies who are food insecure ending up either nearly starving to death because there's no food for them to eat or almost dying because they have to eat food that isn't safe for them so they don't starve.
(How) To maximize the impact S.A.F.E. could make, I knew I had to come up with something that wasn’t your ‘run of the mill, have a food drive once a year and donate it to the pantry and that’s it,’ stereotypical approach, not that that’s bad or ill-intentioned, it just isn’t sustainable for all parties involved. So, I developed S.A.F.E. into an all in one app that helps tackle food insecurity on 4 different fronts.
- #1 is the utilization of digital forms (which can be easily accessed through the S.A.F.E.'s app or website) for pantry workers and/or their clients to fill out requesting specific allergy-friendly food they need/their customers want.
- This allows S.A.F.E. to never end up donating an excess amount of/unwanted food that would end up being wasted that could have been needed somewhere else. This approach also makes the shopping experience feel more personalized for the customer.
- #2 is instead of running a ‘once a year’ food drive, I created a year-round system where Indian Hill High School students can fill out a form to have allergy-food picked up from their house/desired location or they can drop it off at the school in the S.A.F.E. box in the front lobby whenever they want.
- This not only allows for 1) a more sustainable, constant supply of food, but also 2) more food being donated since it takes pressure off of students to actually need to bring in the food to a specific location or at a specific date. This approach adversely leads to more food actually getting donated instead of students just wanting to do so but not, understandably, ever having the time to actualize it.
- #3 is members that are a part of Allergy Club, a club I created at IHHS to aid those with food allergies, will be able to see requests made for food to be picked up, and sign up to to complete the ‘run,’ and take it to the pantry that the food has been matched with.
- This allows for students to get service hours while also helping the community and making this approach actually achievable.
- #4 is that at the pantries, the food donated will be sorted into a designated S.A.F.E. section, with resources provided on the app to help pantries keep this section running/functioning smoothly, after I come in and help set it up.
- This not only 1) helps make sure allergy food is ending up in the hands of people with food allergies who actually need it, but also 2) makes the people shopping at the pantries experience much easier and more enjoyable when they can see all the products that are safe for them in one easy to access spot.
S.A.F.E.'s Education Initiative
E.D.I.T. (Education, Discoveries, Information, Tips)
(What) S.A.F.E.’s education initiative is focused on providing people with education surrounding food allergies in a multitude of forms.
(Why) This is done not only to make it easier for people with food allergies to lead a safer life, but also to help make it easier for them to lead a more normal and ultimately enjoyable life.
(How) S.A.F.E. provides this through its monthly released magazine called E.D.I.T., standing for Education, Discoveries, Information, and Tips.
- The E standing for Education relates to educating people, whether that be on how to properly use an Epi-Pen or key ingredients to look for on product labels, etc., all to try and help them live a safer life with food allergies.
- The D standing for Discoveries relates to the new/innovative things happening spanning the entirety of food allergy research, from oral immunotherapy to new testing methods, etc., so you can always be aware and maybe even participate in them.
- The I standing for Information, relates to brands, restaurants, and recipes that I will be spotlighting each month that you may not be aware of so you can always have new, fun, safe stuff to try.
- The T standing for Tips, relates to tips from questions to ask the server at a restaurant to cool ways to carry your Epi-Pen around, etc., to help you (or your loved ones) life with food allergies in a plethora of ways.
Other S.A.F.E. Related Initiatives
A.C.T. (Allergy Care Talks)
(What) I also created a program adjacent to S.A.F.E. dedicated to helping people, specifically young kids, with food allergies, feel less alone, embarrassed, and overwhelmed by their food allergies, and instead be empowered and inspired to live a safe and fun life in spite of them.
(Why) Kids with food allergies often feel super isolated, this often being a result of them not personally knowing many other people around them who have food allergies. Kids not knowing anyone else with food allergies around is problematic because it means kids firstly, feel like they are alone in the extreme trials and tribulations that come with having food allergies, leading them to sometimes think it is somehow something they should be embarrassed of. Secondly, they have no one to receive advice from on how to deal with allergies, thus leaving them to figure out the daunting task all by themselves. And lastly, they have no one to look up to who has food allergies to inspire them to be unapologetic about them and live life in the face of them.
(How) To achieve this, I created A.C.T., standing for Allergy Care Talks, a program where I go into lower schools (i.e., primary and elementary), both in the Indian Hill school district and underprivileged school districts in the tristate area as well, and have monthly ‘meetings’ with them.
- For the first part of these meetings I just talk with the kids about whatever they want and try to build a relationship with them, so they can feel less alone and also be inspired by someone who doesn’t let their food allergies negatively define them.
- For the second part of the meeting we go into the monthly discussion topics, one relating to allergy safety and one being a more fun time specific topics; like for example in February, the first topic is how to safely eat at restaurants and the second is allergy-friendly treats to make and buy for Valentines day. This allows for kids to learn things that will help them make safer and smarter decisions with food allergies and also help them still have a fun more ‘normal’ life with them as well.
- For the last part of the meeting I handout Top-8 allergen-free treats that the kids can take, which of course, is not only exciting for the kids to try new safe treats but also helps them practice utilizing the tips we talked about in a controlled environment.
- At the end of the meeting, I also hand out E.D.I.T., S.A.F.E.’s aforementioned monthly magazine, which both the kids and parents can read, as the magazine is designed to be readable and engaging for all, and is a great resource for not only the parents to utilize, but also one to read along with their kids.
QR Code to Download S.A.F.E.’s App
Scan this QR code to download the S.A.F.E. app on your mobile device. Once you scan the QR code, you will be prompted to hit the share button (the square with the arrow pointing upwards through it), and then scroll down in the options presented and press “Add to Home Screen.” It’s as easy as that; then you can easily access the S.A.F.E. app from your home screen whenever you want.
If you’re struggling to download the app through using the QR code, you can also click this link or copy and paste it into your search bar on whatever search engine you use on your phone (i.e., Safari, Google, etc.), and you can download it from there as well. The link is: (https://previewer.adalo.com/29d54655-8318-447c-8d1b-5f837114aa49).
Disclaimer: You can access all of S.A.F.E.’s resources through this website (www.supplyingallergyfoodandeducation.weebly.com), or S.A.F.E.’s app, whichever you prefer.