Friday, May 15, 2009

Press Release

Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. Announces New Food Allergy Initiative Advocacy Steering Committee
Two Madison parents join forces with other leading advocates from across the country to advocate for more research funding to find a cure

WASHINGTON, DC – Today as we continue to mark Food Allergy Awareness Week, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., member of the Board of Directors of the Food Allergy Initiative (FAI), announced the formation of FAI’s Advocacy Steering Committee. The committee’s objectives are to help build a strong nationwide presence for the food allergy community in the public policy arena; and to actively seek to increase federal funding of food allergy research, as scientists believe that with proper funding, a cure can be found in less than a decade.

Meg Goss and Sheree Godwin of Madison, members of the Food Allergy Association of Wisconsin, have joined the committee of 16 leading parent advocates nationwide who confront the daily dangers of raising children with severe food allergies.

“FAI is tremendously honored and grateful to have such an esteemed group of parents who are willing to join our effort to find a cure,” said Kennedy. “These parents are proven advocates and support group leaders in their local communities. We are thrilled to add their energy and expertise to our advocacy program.”

Steering committee members include:

Gina Clowes, Chair – AllergyMoms; Cranberry Township, PA
* Meg Goss & Sheree Godwin – Food Allergy Association of Wisconsin; Madison, WI

* Rhonda Riggott Stevens – Education & Advocacy Solutions; Durham, CT Denise Bunning – Mothers of Children Having Allergies; Lake Forest, IL
* Nicole Smith – Allergic Child; Colorado Springs, CO
* Sue Wagner & Carol D'Agnese – San Diego Food Allergy; San Diego, CA
* Debbie Hogan -- Parents of Children with Food Allergies; Tampa, FL
* Maria Acebal – Safe at School Partners, Bethesda, MD
* Nona Narvaez – Anaphylaxis and Food Allergy Association of Minnesota; St. Paul, MN
* Chris Hardy – Parents of Allergic Kids; Charlotte, NC
* Barbara Calluori – Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Coalition of New Jersey; Nutley, NJ
* Sari Canell – Food Allergy Educational Alliance; Scarsdale, NY
* MaryKay Hill – Vermont Food Allergy Organization; Shelburne, VT
* Sally Porter -- Food Allergy Initiative Northwest; Sammamish, WA

“I am very pleased to take part in FAI’s new steering committee,” said Committee Chair Gina Clowes. “For 11 years FAI has led the way in funding research to find a cure to this life-threatening disease. Nothing is more important to me and millions of other parents who wish they could take their children to restaurants, birthday parties and school cafeterias without living in constant fear of exposure to potentially deadly allergens like peanuts,tree nuts, milk, eggs and wheat.”

“My fellow committee members are the best and brightest advocates from all over the country,” Clowes continued. “Every day they are out in their communities making a difference for families with food allergies. As a group, we will devote their attention, resources and expertise toward making sure the federal government is on the leading edge to find a cure.”

About Food Allergies

There are no medications to cure or control food allergies. A strict diet and avoidance of the allergenic food is the only way to avoid a reaction, yet the most common allergens – peanuts, tree nuts, eggs, milk, fish, shellfish, wheat and soy – are staples of the food supply and virtually impossible to avoid completely. Accidental exposure to even a minuscule amount of the offending food can cause an allergic individual to react within seconds, often leading to life-threatening anaphylaxis that causes throat swelling, a dramatic drop in blood pressure, vomiting and even death within a matter of minutes. Although researchers estimate that food allergies cause tens of thousands of emergency room visits each year, they do not understand why rates are increasing so alarmingly, particularly among children. As the CDC report indicated, in a recent five-year period, the rates of peanut allergies among children literally doubled, and allergies to other foods are similarly increasing.

About the Food Allergy Initiative

The Food Allergy Initiative (FAI) is a national 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that funds research seeking a cure for food allergies. It was founded in 1998 by concerned parents and grandparents to support: basic and clinical research worldwide; better public policies to make the world safer for those afflicted; and educational programs to make the hospitality industry, schools, day care centers, and camps safer. FAI is the largest private source of funding for food allergy research in the United States, contributing more than $60 million toward the fulfillment of its mission. For more information, visit, call 212-207-1974, or e-mail

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