Thursday, March 6, 2008

Peanut-Free Politicking

I'm a big NPR junkie. So with all the buzz about the primaries lately, I thought it would be a good time to discuss food allergy advocacy and politics.

Generally I scorn the idea of "one issue" voters since that does not really fit into my idea of a democracy. When my daughter was diagnosed with her severe food allergies, I wondered, would I support a candidate if he/she were a big advocate for food allergies? Even if I didn't necessarily like other things about them?

This hasn't come up too much. But lately, politicians ARE getting involved in this cause. With the help of advocacy groups like FAAN, a bill was passed in 2006 that targeted the FDA laws regulating food labels. Thanks to that, you can now read "May contain nuts" or "Processed with peanuts" on just about every food you want to buy. (I'm joking. Sort of.)

Well, now there is a new bill going through Congress that I urge everyone to support. It is called the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Management Act and it proposes to set standard procedures for schools with regard to how they handle their food allergy policies. This would affect everything from safe lunch rooms to emergency medical training for staff. Click this link to find out about it. The link will also direct you to your district's Congressperson so you know who to contact.

I live in Illinois, so I contacted Senator Dick Durbin. His office got back to me in one day! My other choice was Senator Barack Obama. But he's been, shall we say, just a little bit busy lately. I'm guessing he would not have gotten back to me that quickly, but hey, maybe I'll give him a shout out too.

The originator of this bill was Senator Christopher Dodd. Does anyone except for us NPR nerds remember him from the early Democratic primaries? He moved to Iowa with his young family but got no votes.

I wonder if either of his children has a food allergy. If anyone knows, please post. I'm curious why he chose this bill to support. And I'm grateful! We need more Senators to get involved, so make your voice heard.

Let's support this bill in Congress by writing and calling our representatives. They are listening--if we speak up.

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