Forcing a person in a wheelchair to either walk up the steps or not attend the special event they came for seems cruel, right? If someone is in a wheelchair, they probably can’t climb up the steps to the front door. So what do we do? We build a ramp so they can safely enter the building and be included with everyone else, despite their inability to walk up the steps.
So why is it so hard for those with food allergies to receive some type of accommodation and support? Is it a lack of understanding, knowledge, or empathy? Is it because we, as humans, don’t want to step out of our comfort zones? Is it because food allergies are not recognized as serious?
People with food allergies so often walk into an event without any protective measures in place for them. All around them, people are consuming their allergens, dropping crumbs, and cross-contaminating “safe” food with “unsafe” food. People with food allergies, including helpless young children, are offered little to no protection from the public. How many children and adults with food allergies have to die before people wake up and stand up for them?
Should they stop going to school, church, playgrounds, restaurants, museums? Should they stop going to public venues or events? These are choices that families with food allergies are forced to make everyday. It seems cruel to exclude them completely because of their life-threatening allergies to food. It also seems cruel, in my opinion, to expose them to those foods that can take their lives. Unfortunately, until the public is more aware of and sympathetic to food allergies, many children and adults (even entire families) are excluded from public events.
Prior to the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, the accommodations were not always present for those in wheelchairs. It literally took an act of Congress to ensure people with deficits, disabilities, and special needs were not discriminated against. Almost thirty years later, it seems inconceivable that there is any public building in the United States that does not have accommodations for Americans with Disabilities. My sincere hope and prayer is that someday people with food allergies can also be included in such a way that their safety is at the forefront of people’s minds. If it takes an act of Congress, so be it.
In your own communities, I urge you to educate yourself on the food allergy epidemic that continues to take countless lives each year. I beg you to find ways to support and include those with food allergies safely. No kind deed goes unnoticed.
“And the King will answer them, ” Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.” Matthew 25:40