Why The Food Allergy Community Isn’t Laughing

The state of Michigan recently produced 2 jarring examples of the need to increase awareness and understanding about the dangers of food allergies and the tragic consequences these conditions can bring;

In Clawson, MI a school board member resigned after making an off–hand joke about food allergy children in their school system. While discussing protection for about 20 students at Kenwood Elementary, Linda Grossmann said, “well, you should just shoot them,” throwing up her hands and laughing. What was just as concerning was that others in the room  laughed along.

A formal letter of resignation was submitted following a clip of her comment being posted online and the understandable outrage which ensued from the food allergy community. Even though the comment was meant as a joke, the comments do highlight the dangerous level of ignorance that currently exists in the community at large and this danger is only exacerbated when it is revealed within school board members who are responsible for creating and enacting policies that effect child safety away from home.

Tragically, just a few hours away from Clawson, a 19 year old college student succumbed to a severe reaction after he inadvertently came into contact with peanuts at a friend’s house, whose family members were making cookies. By all accounts, Chandler Swink, who had a level 6 nut allergy (the most severe) was absolutely vigilant about protecting himself and avoiding nuts in all situations and yet tragically, his family is now mourning the loss of their child. Our thoughts and prayers are with them.

The food allergy community isn’t laughing or taking light the comments made because we know food allergies can kill; we know food allergies are sending our children to emergency rooms by the tens of thousands each year; we know the traumatic effects of these conditions and we, quite frankly, expect all school board members everywhere to have this same level of concern and understanding.

 

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