Food allergies in kids are on the rise, as it continues a trend seen for decades. According to the CDC, more than 8% of American children suffer from a food allergy, and peanut allergies have nearly tripled in recent years.
But, these allergies come at a huge cost. It’s estimated families across the country combined will spend more than 25 billion dollars a year to keep their kids safe, and that will only get higher with the cost of inflation.
For Alta, living in the Capital Region, life at home with two dogs, a toddler, and a baby is hard enough. But raising a child with severe food allergies is just another mom milestone she has had to tackle.
“When it is three allergies, not just one, it’s very hard to process. Even I have a lot of trouble making sure she’s safe,” explains the mother of two.
She was a first time mom when she found out her daughter has severe food allergies. Now, even with years of practice, it takes a lot to find food free from tree nuts, sesame, and dairy for her three year old.
“And she’s a toddler, so she won’t eat most foods,” laughs Alta. “Especially because sesame isn’t a top eight allergy, so it’s not on labels. I have to make a lot of calls to find out.”
Parents of children with allergies know they need to go the extra mile, whether that’s visiting multiple stores to get what they need or spending the extra dollars for allergy safe food. For Alta, this means packing up school lunches everyday since her daughter will never be able eat in the school cafeteria.
“It’s very hard to casually leave the house- I have to think, ok what will be able to bring for her to eat,” she added. “I definitely have to go to a lot of different stores so I can get all the different things that she can eat, and it definitely get’s expensive that’s for sure.”
A study showed thay allergy safe food can be 150-250% more expensive than the everyday brands on store shelves. Regardless of the exact percentage number, these extra costs are non-negotiable. Add it on top of 13% grocery inflation seen across the country in the month of July, a 40 year high.
When it comes to the school day, Alta has to put her trust in the *teachers* to prevent allergic reactions for her child. There’s an ‘allergy safe’ food tag she can put on her lunch box, and Alta’s daughter can only eat at a table with other kids or teachers who bring allergy safe foods.
“I really trust the people at her school , but whenever I know a teacher is going to be watching her, I always call and double check that they know where her Benadryl and Epipen is in case exposures happen,” the toddler mom said.
And while it’s expensive, Alta says this is just normal life for them now, making sure their kids are safe and happy.
“You always want to keep your kid safe and give them the best possible life. Also, it’s a sharp learning curve, being a new mom. So that process going through it was really hard at the time. But I think with everything with motherhood, you do it,it’s really hard and then one day you’re just like I’m used to this.”