By Jon Terry
May 18th, 2023
Greetings. I sincerely hope everyone has had a pleasant Memorial Day holiday weekend.
On May 2nd, we hosted the annual gathering of advocates for Food Allergy Awareness Day NY 2023 in Albany. After a few years of Zoom advocacy, this was the first time since the pandemic our event was held in person at the state capitol in Albany. With many new legislators to share our concerns with, I think being together face to face made for a much more personal and positive experience.
It was a very crowded and bustling day at the Legislative Office Building, with many people waiting in line to visit the capitol. Since the NYS budget wasn't finalized, almost every lawmaker was spending all their time inside the house chamber. Meetings with lawmakers were strictly on a catch-as-catch-can basis. The most important part of Food Allergy Awareness Day isn't how long each meeting is but how many meetings you can deliver your message in person.
I was gratified seeing old friends and acquaintances again, activist advocates committed to supporting individuals and families with life-threatening allergies at risk for anaphylaxis. We had many young people with us, telling their personal stories and asking legislators for help. And many people stopped at our exhibit as they walked back and forth between the LOB and the Capitol.
We arranged dozens of meetings with senators, assembly members and their staff members in offices and outside the Assembly and Senate Chambers. Our previous Food Allergy Awareness events, held on Zoom, were successful but I think being together face to face makes for a much more personal and positive experience.
This year assembly member Linda Rosenthal sponsored our event. Ms. Rosenthal is a big supporter of our legislative efforts. In 2022 AM Rosenthal was the primary sponsor for NYS A2344, requiring signs and labels providing information about food allergies in food establishments and online food ordering services. Thanks to her patient and persistent work, and the help of her staff, and the support of many other legislators, her bill was signed by Governor Kathy Hochul last fall.
This year Ms. Rosenthal sponsored promising new proposals important to our goals. Those goals include improved access to life-saving epinephrine in all public locations.
With many thanks for the patient and tenacious leadership of Stacey Saiontz, legions of New York State advocates and support from FARE over the last 12 years, a version of Teacher Training passed in both Chambers. The bill provides a solid foundation to continue the push to give food allergic students confidence that more adults in school buildings can keep them safe. After passage in both chambers, it’s onto the Governor’s office. You can help on that front, by contacting Governor Hochul’s office here or on the phone at 518-474-8390. Ask her to request A7037A, be sent to her desk to sign into law.
Public Access to EAIs
Along with Teacher Training, public access to EAIs (A2885) would require places of public assembly to stock EAIs and have someone on hand trained in their proper operation and use.
These two proposals reflect recent news media accounts concerning schools, anaphylaxis emergencies and life-saving epinephrine. A student at a Suffolk Co. NY had near death experience after accidentally ingesting a food allergen. It was only after her parent raced to the school and personally administered an epinephrine auto-injector (EAI) device did her symptoms receded and she recovered. This shows once again how school all school personnel, teachers and administrators need better anaphylaxis emergency training.
On behalf of our Board of Directors and staff, thank you so much for your participation and support for Food Allergy Awareness Day NY '23! The legislature's final session is Friday, June 8th. We will continue to push for your important legislation until the session ends. Please contact your state assembly member and senator; we need every one of our lawmaker's votes to advance the vision of our association: Not another life lost to anaphylaxis and not another life lost to any life-threatening allHave healthy and safe summer season! Best wishes!
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