I have already been asked about my choice to focus on food allergy management specifically in higher education.
"Aren't these adults old enough to manage their food allergies?"
"Shouldn't college students be responsible for their own management?"
"Don't most kids outgrow their food allergies anyway?"
College-aged students should be able to manage their own food allergies, but these students are also reliant upon services provided by the universities in order to be able to effectively manage these allergies. Food allergy management in higher education is not simply about dining services, but also must be a part of residential services, health services, and in some cases, must be considered for academic accommodations. It is important to note that, under the American with Disabilities Act (ADA), food allergies can be considered a disability if it severely limits one or more major life activities. Disability services must also be involved in food allergy management in higher education. Given the number of departments/services just listed, I believe that it is important that there be an individual designated to serve as a liaison between these departments to assist students with their own food allergy management.
College-aged students, while adults, are also considered to be a group that is both seeking independence and a group that engages in more high-risk behavior. Access to epinephrine (more on this later), methods of educating all students on proper protocol in the event of a food allergy reaction, and student groups and organizations that serve to be inclusive and advocate for students with food allergies can help students feel empowered to more effectively self-manage their allergies.
While it is common for some kids to outgrow food allergies, the truth is that the food allergy epidemic is here to stay, and the numbers of students who enter college with life-threatening food allergies is on the rise and will continue to rise as the years go on. Currently, 1 in 13 children have a food allergy, and more than 15 million Americans have a diagnosed food allergy. Teenagers and young adults are the most at-risk for having a fatal anaphylactic reaction. I believe that the influx of students with food allergies that K-12 schools saw in the last decade is about to hit higher education institutions, and that there is a lack of awareness about what is coming.
And that's where my interest in raising awareness through this blog/social media campaign comes in.
Over the course of this semester, I have read countless articles and interviewed stakeholders in food allergy management in order to highlight what is being done well around the country, and to make recommendations for those in higher education. For the remainder of April, I will share what I have learned on my Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram pages as well as through information added on this site.
Thank you for your interest in my work! You may reach me anytime via my social media pages, or by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org
My name is Brittany Dye, and I am a food allergy mom and a graduate student in higher education administration at Middle Tennessee State University. These two parts of my world have collided, and I am passionate about successful food allergy management in higher education.