Dear industry colleague,
We are writing because we are both in the business of delivering quality foods for people to enjoy. We believe that everyone should have access to safe foods. This year with the added impact of Covid-19 the USDA estimates 18 million children could face hunger, which has increased from the previous year’s projection of 11 million. Food Equality Initiative (FEI) was founded to combat food insecurity specifically as it pertains to those needing access to allergy-friendly foods. As an allergy-friendly brand, we know FEI’s work is vital which is why we are excited to partner with them. The following letter details what we have learned about food insecurity and food inequality. We hope that as an industry partner you’ll join us in this effort after learning more!
The problem inside the problem
Our industry is well aware of the food insecurity in our country. But there is a hidden issue inside the hunger problem. There are 60,000 food pantries in the United States, but only a handful stock safe foods for people with food allergies, celiac disease and other digestive disorders. When you consider that 32 million Americans, including about six million children, must avoid certain foods to maintain their health, and that most food assistance programs don’t provide sufficient access to allergy-friendly foods for this vulnerable population, the health risks for low-income members of this group become clear.
According to Food Equality Initiative (FEI), even under normal conditions, the cost and availability of allergen and gluten-free foods is challenging for many. But under the current COVID-19 conditions, food supply chains have been interrupted, more people than expected have lost their income, and food insecurity has increased significantly. For those in this group who rely on medically required allergy-free foods, the problem has gone from bad to worse.
Moreover, are you aware that Black children are 7% more likely to have a food allergy than white children, are diagnosed less often, receive less medical care, and are more likely to suffer serious life-threatening events? When combined with existing chronic racial disparities in income and access to healthcare, the health risks for low-income Black persons with food allergies or illness are amplified.
In 2020, fourteen companies became founding members of FEI’s new Seven Percent Coalition, a group comprised of allergy-friendly food manufacturers, health experts and community stakeholders seeking to end systemic health disparities related to food allergy. We have pledged financial support and are stepping up to communicate with our local communities and networks.
The mission of FEI, a recognized nonprofit public benefit corporation based in Kansas City, MO, is to improve health and end hunger in individuals diagnosed with food allergies and celiac disease through access to safe and healthy food, nutrition education, and advocacy. Since your company helps to feed America, and food allergy/illness impacts about 10% of our citizens, FEI is asking for your help to extend its reach.
There are several ways you can participate in this mission:
- You can join us in the Seven Percent Coalition
- You can contact FEI to learn more and can work with your network and community to help improve access to safe foods by those who need them
- You can share this information with your own professional and personal networks to raise awareness
Please join us in the Seven Percent movement.