Life-long residents of the Chicagoland area, and married since 2005 with three beautiful daughters, we certainly know there are no shortage of places to eat and socialize where we live. But we have food allergies and sensitivities in the family - peanuts and dairy, specifically. Of course, this isn't unique to just us - according to Food Allergy and Research Education (FARE), 1 in 13 children now have a food allergy, as do nearly 32 million people in the US alone.
The bottom line is that eating out or attending a gathering with food around is stressful for families with food allergies. And, truth be told, avoiding restaurants, social gatherings, and birthday parties is a choice that families like ours hate to confront.
The BEST scenario would be for all environments to be aware, conscious, and accommodating to those with food allergies. In starting The Inclusive Eating Project, we want to open the lines of communication between restaurants and customers, businesses and consumers, schools and parents, & families and family members. We feel that everyone should be welcomed and included in such social settings, and that exclusion - due to a medical condition no less - hinders one's self worth, confidence, and emotional & social development.
Through the work of The Inclusive Eating Project, we hope that navigating this world with a food allergy will get a little easier with each passing day. We believe that the responsibility to provide that inclusiveness lies within the social setting, not with the person that has a food allergy or sensitivity. Our projects will focus on helping those social settings to make the change in a way that can benefit everyone, and we'd love for you to join us!
- Jen and Ed Rotchford