My name is Chase Spano. As you probably know, I have life threatening food allergies. I’m eleven years old and have fought for my life fourteen times. I’m not going to outgrow my food allergies so I’m hopeful that you will support me and my cause. Living with these types of food allergies can be anxiety provoking and isolating. Science is the only thing that will help me be able to live a more normal life.
My family and I can’t control that I have food allergies, but we can control what we do about having them. We choose to advocate to help people like us live easier lives, we raise funds for scientists to research why this food allergy epidemic is growing at a disproportionate rate and what can be done to help cure those with the disease. We work closely with the Food Allergy Research and Education (FARE) non-profit organization. FARE provides me with hope for a more normal life. They are the largest private funder of food allergy research and have turned over $100 million in donor gifts into ground-breaking research.
Over the past few years, I have spoken several times with Congress members in both the House of Representatives and the Senate to share my story of what it’s like for me to live with food allergies. I shared what it feels like when I go into anaphylaxis and my body shuts down from just the tiniest ingestion of my allergen. Unfortunately, I’m allergic to all dairy, tree nuts, fish, beef and a multitude of other smaller allergens. I also have asthma which is a direct correlation to my allergies.
During our first few Congressional meetings we spoke about the Food Allergy Safety, Treatment, Education, and Research (FASTER) Act. Both the House and the Senate passed our Act and President Biden signed it into law! One of the main purposes of this bill was to add sesame as the 9th allergen to food labeling laws. Being able to read labels clearly and quickly is very important for my community. In addition, this law mandates that the Department of Health and Human Services provide a report to Congress essentially stating why food allergies are increasing, what can be done to stop them, and how to help those living with them. Also important, we passed legislation to update the public school lunch training program to include new information for handling and preparing students’ foods more safely.
This year we are lobbying several other acts with Congress that will also help the underserved community. Right now, the only treatment to stop anaphylaxis is epinephrine. It can cost upwards of $700 for this medication and you need multiple auto-injectors…usually at least two for school and two on your person. This is too costly for most Americans. The other unfortunate situation is that the medication expires in one year despite it still having a high efficacy rate. We are asking Congress to provide guidelines which will help reduce the out of pocket cost of this life saving medication and to also extend its shelf life. Separately, we are lobbying to introduce food allergy education into the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC). This program helps mothers and children up to age 5 who are at nutritional risk. Right now nearly 1 in 2 babies born in the United States utilize the WIC program.
As you can see, I am very passionate and dedicate a good amount of time trying to make life better for me and the other 32 million Americans living with this disease. We know it’s a challenging time. However, if you can, I would be forever grateful if you would help support my cause. FARE provides me with hope that my life will improve greatly in the relatively near future. As some of you know, science has already progressed since my diagnosis and will now allow me to participate in oral immunotherapy. This process is a long journey that will hopefully lessen my severe reactions. Thank you very much for reading about my story and hopefully supporting my cause.