ST. LOUIS (June, 2009) – The first official day of summer is fast approaching and families are busy making plans for summertime getaways. But for those with food-allergic family members, planning for safe and worry-free vacation meals is often a stressful, difficult and complicated process. Tabor Burke, founder of Allergaroo, teamed up with Gina Clowes of AllergyMoms.com, to provide some simple tips to help make it easier for families with food-allergic kids to plan summertime getaways. Both are mothers of kids with food allergies and, as such, have several hours of vacation planning under their collective belts.
“Never before have we had available to us so many delicious and convenient allergy-friendly options when it comes to travel,” says Gina Clowes, founder of AllergyMoms.com, a nationally recognized online support group for food-allergic families …
“Some manufacturers are making it easier than ever for us by marketing allergy-friendly foods that are not only delicious, but can be easily thrown into a carry-on bag and taken anywhere we go,” she adds. “Hotels and restaurants are also jumping on the bandwagon by offering more and more allergy-friendly options on their menus.”
When she developed Allergaroo, Tabor Burke definitely had travel and convenience on her mind.
“I was spending all of my free time planning for, shopping for, and preparing my children’s allergy-friendly meals,” says Tabor Burke, founder of St. Louis-based Allergy Friendly Foods, which markets Allergaroo, the country’s only allergy-friendly, gluten-free brand of delicious, convenient, all-natural, ready-made dishes. “Traveling presented additional challenges and left little time for the actual vacation,” she adds. “So I created Allergaroo. What could be simpler than ripping open a pouch of Allergaroo Spaghetti, Spyglass Noodles, or Chili Mac and throwing into a hotel room microwave?” she says. “The kids love it, and moms do too!”
The following are a few of Gina and Tabor’s tips for eating safely on the road:
Planes, Trains and Automobiles
Assuming you’ve done your due diligence when it comes to checking out airline and train on-board policies on peanut or other allergens, you can now focus on meal and snack planning.
• Call in advance to determine what, if any, “safe” meals and snacks are available for ordering.
• Better yet, bring a small cooler with at least one extra meal and snack for your food-allergic child. Again, call in advance to determine what foods will and will not be allowed and plan accordingly. For air travel, you may learn that foods like yogurt or applesauce are considered liquids. See the TSA’s website on travelers with special medical conditions, traveling with food and beverages past the security checkpoint, and TSA information on liquids. As of this writing, there are no restrictions when it comes to carry-on food on trains.
• If you're traveling by car, you may have the luxury of space packing enough foods and snacks for the duration of your trip. Focus on packing foods that are easy and convenient to prepare and serve.
• If you don’t have room to spare in the car, you might choose to shop for your favorite allergy-friendly brands once you reach your destination. Most brands’ websites will have a “store locator,” which will provide the names and addresses of each store around the country that carries their products.
• Another option is to ship your foods to your destination in advance. This way, regardless of your mode of travel, everything will be at your destination when you arrive.
The Check Please
As diagnoses continue to rise, more and more restaurants are offering allergy-friendly and gluten-free options. Plan ahead by searching the Internet for allergy-friendly restaurants. New Internet sites are popping up every day that list allergy-friendly restaurants around the country. One of the newest is SpecialGourmets.com, where you can search allergy-friendly restaurants in a given neighborhood, in a given city, or in a given country.
• Most national chains include nutrition information on their websites that often include allergy information. Check them out ahead of time so you’ll know which you can dine at stress free.
• If you’re planning a meal at a non-chain restaurant, call ahead. Let the restaurant know that you have someone with food allergies in your party. Make it easy for the wait staff to assist you by telling them not just what your child can’t have, but also exactly what he or she can have.
• Get a Food Allergy Buddy Card. It’s a free and simple tool to communicate effectively with your server. And you can print it out yourself at www.supermarketguru.com/page.cfm/7512.
• If all else fails, bring your own. As long as you’re purchasing meals for others in your family, the restaurant should be happy to allow you to bring your own food for your food-allergic child.
Founded by Gina Clowes, AllergyMoms.com is a nationally recognized website that provides support for parents of kids with food allergies. AllergyMoms.com features articles and products, new food allergy recipes, and the latest news relevant to parents of food-allergic children. Visit www.AllergyMoms.com.
Allergaroo is owned and marketed by St. Louis-based Allergy Friendly Foods, LLC, which was founded in 2005 with the mission of making great-tasting and convenient, all-natural, allergy-friendly and gluten-free dishes. The company launched the Allergaroo brand in 2008 with three all-natural, gluten-free and allergy-friendly varieties. Allergy Friendly Foods, LLC was founded by Tabor Burke, a mother of two children with multiple food allergies who longed for a convenient and delicious meal alternative that her kids could safely eat without worries. Allergaroo was named an Editor’s Pick for Best New Products of 2008 by Progressive Grocer (Sep 2008). For more information, visit www.allergaroo.com