The five finalists deserve commendation for the services they provide to the food-allergy community. Each site provides a different type of support, and all are very much needed.
(A quick aside: Thank you to the readers who voted for the About.com Food Allergies site! Your votes made my day. However, I didn't include About.com in this contest since the purpose is to recognize other organizations for the great work they do!)
And now for the countdown to the winner of the 2012 Reader's Choice Award for Best Food Allergy Online Support:
5. Allergic Child
In fifth place, Allergic Child is an online resource of educational materials, how-to-guides and a monthly eNewsletter dedicated to raising a child with food allergies. The site is written by Nicole Smith, author of the Allie the Allergic Elephant series of children's books.
Allergic Child was begun in 1999 when Alliewas published. The site has grown to include a library of articles on managing food allergies and advocating for a child with food allergies in the school system, sports teams and scout groups. Allergic Child also sells allergy alert posters and Smith's series of food allergy books.
4. Best Allergy Sites
In fourth place is Best Allergy Sites, a directory of websites and online information about food allergies and intolerances.
The site brings together research, educational materials, recipes and coupons for allergy-friendly foods in one website. The site is for people with environmental as well as food allergies, and contains information on managing allergies at home, school and while traveling.
Ruth Lovett Smith, the founder of Best Allergy Sites, is an allergy sufferer, mother of a food-allergic child and an allergy advocate. The site was launched in March 2009 and includes an online community forum, Twitter parties and guides to living with food allergies and celiac disease.
3. Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network
The third place wiinner, The Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network (FAAN), is a nonprofit organization that provides education and advocacy. FAAN’s website contains a wealth of written and videotaped information on major allergens, managing food allergies in schools and safe food handling for restaurant workers.
FAAN was founded in 1991 and is an international organization with 22,000 members around the globe. Each year FAAN hosts multiple programs, including Food Allergy Awareness Week, food allergy conferences, summer camps, a poster contest, fundraising events and the Kids’ Congress on Capitol Hill. The organization makes grants to researchers searching for a cure for food allergies; it advocates at the national and state levels for legislation that protects people with food allergies.
In second place is AllergyEats. Despite being only two years old, AllergyEats has created a huge database of restaurants that people with food allergies can rate and search. Users can rate restaurants on their allergy friendliness and read ratings and comments left by others.
AllergyEats launched in January 2010. Its founder, Paul Antico, was motivated by the difficulty he had in finding safe restaurants for his three children with multiple food allergies. Over the last two years the site has grown to include Paul’s blog on dining with food allergies; special sections on allergy-friendly bakeries and Walt Disney World; special deals for allergy-friendly products; and a restaurant gift card giveaway.
1. Kids with Food Allergies Foundation
And the winner is: Kids with Food Allergies Foundation!
KFA is a nonprofit organization that offers online support for parents of children with food allergies. The foundation offers education materials and extensive online forums where parents offer each other peer-to-peer support. Participation in the forums is free to anyone. The site provides a library of articles on such topics as managing holidays for children with food allergies.
KFA offers members a database of more than 1,200 user-submitted, allergy-friendly recipes. Members also receive a welcome package with coupons for allergy-friendly products.
Kids with Food Allergies began as an email listserve in 1998. In 2005, it was registered as a nonprofit organization. It has grown to 24,000 members, 80 percent of whom have no food-allergy support groups in their local area. KFA provides emotional support and non-medical advice for living with food allergies.