Memphis surpassed Salt Lake City to rank as the most generous metropolitan area in the United States, giving almost $6 of every $100 earned to philanthropy. With this in mind, the Memphis Moms Blog wants to feature a local Nonprofit every month. There are so many amazing organizations in our city dedicated to looking out for the well being of all Memphians, and we want to feature them. If you know of a Nonprofit we should feature, Let us know by nominating them here!
Food Allergy Alliance of the Mid-South (FAAM)’s mission is to provide food allergy support, education, advocacy, and fellowship in Memphis, TN, and surrounding areas to increase awareness and encourage families managing food allergies.
FAAM was founded in December of 2015 with the purpose of supporting anyone managing a food allergy diagnosis in the Mid-South and to raise awareness through community education. FAAM provides many forms of support for our food allergy community, from support immediately after diagnosis to hosting fun, food-free events that include everyone regardless of their food allergies. Community education ranges from information booths at health fairs to school presentations that help teachers include all students in the classroom, regardless of their challenges. FAAM’s goals of making sure families feel supported and the community armed with facts is the heart work of founder and President, Kelley Barnett.
Here is her story:
When my youngest son was 17 months old, he experienced an anaphylactic reaction to food; something that was supposed to nourish his body almost took his life. My husband and I only knew of one person who had food allergies, but we had no idea reactions could be potentially fatal or how to manage the diagnosis. This new world we’d been thrown into in mere seconds felt scary and overwhelming, and we were given little information about how to navigate it.
We turned to Dr. Google and the library on a mission to learn all we could about food allergies, noting which sources were based on facts. We learned how to read labels, but that labels don’t tell the whole story of what’s in the food and how it’s made. We learned to always have two epinephrine auto-injectors with us at all times in case one doesn’t work or the severity of the reaction warrants a second dose. We also learned epinephrine is the only medication that can stop an anaphylactic reaction when given in time.
What websites couldn’t teach us, though, was how to get through sleepless nights due to horrible eczema flare ups. Websites didn’t teach us how to teach him, a child who at that age put everything in his mouth, to recognize his allergens and not eat them. Books didn’t mention that the diagnosis belongs not only to the child, but to the whole family, as we all play a role in keeping him safe. During the first year of our diagnosis, we met other families that faced similar challenges and we felt a tug on our hearts to do more for our local food allergy community. We felt the tug to create a food allergy family.
Our hope is that FAAM is a source of comfort and information for members of our food allergy community. One of the most comforting services we provide is our food-free events. We all know that everything in the South revolves around food, which can make someone diagnosed with food allergies feel alienated or concerned for their safety. Our food-free egg hunt, summer camp, trunk-or-treat, and Santa visit include all families, regardless of their food allergies. We’ve had tweens with multiple, life-threatening food allergies experience traditional holiday events for the first time, because they finally had a safe option. I’m not sure there’s a bigger smile out there than a child who feels safe and included.
To join our FAAMily and for more information on services offered, visit: www.faamidsouth.org
FAAM is a volunteer-run nonprofit organization. If you’d like to support the work FAAM does in the community, we invite you to participate in our 2nd Annual Virtual 5K for Food Allergy Awareness fundraiser.
MB features a nonprofit organization every month. If you know of a nonprofit that is making a difference here in Memphis, we want to know about it! Let us know by nominating them here.