For the 2.2 million school-age children who have food allergies and their parents, back to school means educating classmates and parents before the school year even begins.

In the school setting, avoiding food allergens can be difficult because they're everywhere -- in the cafeteria, on the playground, in the classroom. Food is used in class celebrations, for art projects, as a reward for good behavior, and in math and science lessons. But if everyone learns how to Be a PAL: Protect A Life(TM) From Food Allergies, we can keep these children safe.

"Managing food allergies is a group effort," said Anne Munoz-Furlong, Founder and CEO of the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network (FAAN). "Kids tell us they rely on their friends to keep them safe. Some call them their best allies and protectors."

Country music star Trace Adkins and his wife Rhonda understand the challenge of sending a child who has food allergies back to school, as their daughter Brianna is allergic to peanuts, tree nuts, eggs, and milk. "We believe it is all about education and awareness. Once people understand food allergies, it is easy to keep Brianna and other children safe," said Trace Adkins. "We take the time to educate those who are around Brianna," added Rhonda. "This includes the children in her classroom and their parents, the entire staff in her school, and the education community within our county. We have found that most people know someone who has food allergies and want to learn as much as they can to keep that person safe."

Even at age 11, Angela DiGuiseppe understands the importance of watching out for her friends with food allergies, like Julia Rocereta, age 11. "To help Julia manage her food allergies, I do simple things like -- at lunch -- remind people who don't sit with us very often that Julia can't have some of the foods they eat. If Julia gets something on her she can't have, I take her to the bathroom and make sure she uses extra soap," said Angela.

Julia is truly grateful for friends like Angela. "Every time somebody brings in treats for their birthday at school, Angela is always making sure I'm OK," said Julia. "When Angela has her own parties, she always makes sure I can have all the treats, including the cake!" Angela received a PAL Hero award earlier this year and says, "To me, it's important to be a PAL because I know that every day I act as a PAL, I'm making Julia's life safer. Who wouldn't want to do that for a friend like Julia!"

There are five easy steps to Be a PAL:

1. Food allergies are serious. Don't make jokes about them.

2. Don't share food with friends who have food allergies.

3. Wash your hands after eating.

4. Ask what your friends are allergic to, and help them avoid it.

5. If a friend who has food allergies becomes ill, get help immediately!

For more information on food allergies, or to access FAAN's back-to-school tool kit, visit


Founded in 1991, the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network (FAAN) is the world leader in information about food allergy, a potentially fatal condition that afflicts about 12 million Americans, or one out of every 25. A nonprofit organization based in Fairfax, Va., FAAN has 30,000 members in the U.S., Canada, and 62 other countries. It is dedicated to increasing public awareness of food allergy and its consequences, to educating people about the condition, and to advancing research on behalf of all those affected by it. FAAN provides information and educational resources about food allergy to patients, their families, schools, health professionals, pharmaceutical companies, the food industry, and government officials. For more information, please visit FAAN at,, and

Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network