by Michael Bianca
Ever since I can remember I have had to deal with the fact I have a fairly severe peanut allergy. Luckily, I was able to find out very early on and have grown up my entire life avoiding a food that is a staple for most children. As far back as I can remember I have been reading every single ingredient list for a food I was about to eat and if I wasn’t sure what was in something, not eating it.
The most difficult part for me was going out to eat. I was embarrassed to ask the waiter if a certain food had nuts in it so I would either stick to something I knew, or not eat at all. While I have been incredibly diligent about making sure I knew what was in something before I ate it, I’ve had my fair share of close calls. Most of the time it was from ordering something and realizing once it came that it included some sort of nut and not being able to eat it. There is nothing worse than being hungry, waiting for your food to come and then once it is served not being able to eat it!
Another difficult thing to learn to deal with was going to baseball games. I am a huge baseball fan and as anyone who has gone to a game before knows, baseball and peanuts are synonymous. It was tough for me to go to a game and not enjoy myself because someone around me was eating peanuts. Most of the time I could move to another seat, but there have been times where I could feel a reaction coming on and I had to leave.
With all that said I have been incredibly lucky for someone who has a food allergy. My parents had the resources to take me to an allergist and were able to buy food that did not contain anything I was allergic to. Some people in my situation aren’t that lucky and don’t have those options. That is why joining S.A.F.E Food Pantry was an easy decision for me. I couldn’t imagine being hungry and not being able to eat what food was available because I was allergic to it. Through my involvement with S.A.F.E my goal is to help build a place that individuals and families can go and get access to safe food that they may not be able to afford.
The good news is awareness is at an all-time high. When I was in elementary and middle school there were no precautions implemented in schools and restaurants like there are now. While this is a huge step, there is still a lot of work to be done for those who are food insecure with allergies. My hope is through S.A.F.E we can take that next step forward in making sure everyone has access to safe food.
Michael Bianca serves as a Board Director for the S.A.F.E. Food Pantry.
The S.A.F.E. Food Pantry is an all-volunteer, 501(c)(3) organization based in Howard County, Maryland.