Safe Eats: Food Allergy Club Represents NC State at FARE’s Triangle Heroes Walk

By Olivia Chadwick

On the sunny morning of Saturday, May 5, 2018, vendors began setting up for the FARE Triangle Heroes Walk, a walk dedicated to raising awareness about food allergies and fundraising for food allergy research. The food allergy walk was held at the Community Center Park of Chapel Hill, a frequent site for families, pets, and Chapel Hill natives. Among those who attended the walk this year were NC State Dining’s Safe Eats club, UNC Food Allergy Initiative, FARE, and a local face painting table. Sponsors of the event included OWYN, Allergic Living magazine, Enjoy Life Foods, Nice ‘N’ Clean, and SunButter.

The event began with registration and check in, as well as tabling and activities for attendees to participate in. Safe Eats had a table with handouts explaining the club, as well as NC State food allergy resources, nutrition information, and allergen free recipes. Cornhole and face painting were the overwhelming favorite, as children ran to get their faces covered in dragons, flowers, unicorns, rainbows, and more. Children who registered with one or more food allergies were given a teal cape to wear during the Heroes Walk. “Turn it Teal”, a recent campaign started in 2014 by Stephanie Lowe, works on shining a light on food allergies, as teal is the color of food allergy awareness. The campaign has reached national recognition and is currently promoted by FARE.

After 45 minutes of activities and vendor engagement, the speeches began. The crowd of over 80 people gathered around the DJ booth as each speaker told their story, current research, and/or ongoing campaigns. Safe Eats was the second speaker, and Olivia Chadwick, Allergen Specialist for NC State Dining, spoke briefly about her diagnosis with gluten intolerance 8 years ago, as well as her journey to becoming an allergy resource for NC State. She explained what NC State does for allergenic students, as the university is one of the Top 10 Allergy accommodating Colleges in the nation. Lastly, she provided resources for interested parents and children including information about frequent allergy trainings, transparent ingredient lists for all food on campus, dining navigational tours, and meetings with the NC State Registered Dietitian, Lisa Eberhart.

After the three speeches, participants were invited to engage in a brief warm up. This warm up included yoga, stretching, and dynamic exercises to prepare for the walk. Attendees lined up at the starting line, with the UNC Food Allergy Initiative leading the route. The walk began shortly after 11:00am, weaving through the rose garden and wrapping around the playground area. The walk concluded just before lunchtime, and the timing could not have been more perfect for busy families and their hungry children.

Overall, the walk was impactful for the dozens of mothers, fathers, grandparents, and children who came out to support the cause, and families left smiling and grateful for the opportunity to raise awareness for food allergies. Safe Eats members Olivia Chadwick and Tessa Peerbolte spoke highly of the event, and are sure to represent the club in next year’s Triangle Heroes Walk.