Julie Trone and her husband John run Allergy Free Table, an educational website and series of pocket-sized guide books. The pocket guide for schools includes practical basics for food allergy management, such as questions to ask about your school’s lunch room: “How are the tables cleaned? Is there a designated food allergy table?”
Julie Trone also offers training seminars for school cafeteria workers on food allergy safety protocols. Along with Betty Craig of Kitchens with Confidence, she is developing a series of webinars to make her educational programs available to a wider audience. “I want to make information about how to handle food allergies available to as many people as possible,” she says.
I had the opportunity to interview Juie via email and phone.
Can you tell me a little bit about the history of Allergy-Free Table? Why did you start it? How long have you been running it?
We started the site approximately 2 years ago while I was working with Maria Acebal on our Food Allergies & Schools pocket guide and writing the Food Allergies & Children pocket guide.
What do you hope your site will do for people living with food allergies?
We looked at all of the information out there and realized there were a few topics that kept repeating along with the niche market for e-learning. We hope our free courses will help others, our information (which is current ) is useful on a daily basis, and our pocket guides will be a great food allergy assistant to anyone who uses them.
Do you or a family member have food allergies?
One of our sons has severe multiple food allergies. We found out when he was 5 months old. I am gluten and soy intolerant. My husband, John, has one or two very minor food allergies.
When your son was first diagnosed, did you seek help or information on the internet? What did you find? What did you wish you had found?
We sought out a support group and the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network online. The support group in our area was incredibly helpful with learning all of the nuances on how to manage food allergies
What advice do you have for someone who is newly diagnosed (or has a family member who is newly diagnosed) with food allergies?
Get support immediately. The support is needed on so many levels. Emotional, physical health, and daily living to name a few.
Is there anything else you would like to share with About.com readers?
When faced with the possibility of my son losing his life over a morsel of food I completely lost my ability to feel lighthearted. Learning how to care for him, educating family/friends/everyone, caring for twins and a stepson, and running the household with my husband was incredibly stressful. Even grocery shopping changed since we were reading every label, talking with store staff, and going to up to three separate stores to find safe foods. Family gatherings were no longer casual because I had to worry about cross contact.
We learned to manage our new way of normal life but it took years to find my sense of humor again. I have become incredibly cautious and don’t take anything for granted these days. The beauty is that our son has become very confident and quite adept at handling his allergies. I know he is who he is partly because of the allergies. The scary part of food allergies I wish I could change for him and our family but the character traits he had to embrace makes us all incredibly proud.