As the parent of a child who has a food allergy and because of my husband’s dietary restrictions, I am always well prepared for a storm. Extra medication, extra food, ‘to go’ shelf-stable food for a week, but am I prepared to be in a shelter? The hurricane this week brought this issue for us to light. We would not be able to eat any of the food prepared at a shelter. We would not be able to stay in a shelter that allowed pets because of our asthma. If everything were washed away and access to our bank account were frozen, we would not be able to purchase expensive, though necessary staples. As an example, one loaf of bread costs $5.50. Perhaps we would be able to drive to someone’s home, which some of my food allergic constituents did, in order to use their kitchen for a week. But what if our car were swept away?
Thankfully we are fine. But thinking about those in our community who may not have been able to reach out to us yet, or who we don’t even know about, prompted me to try to identify those who may be in need. It turns out that although social media is a great way to get the word ‘out’, physically walking into shelters was the only way I was going to find out if anyone needed special foods. I walked into two shelters yesterday in our Park Slope neighborhood of Brooklyn, and in one I met with the director of meals who stated that only one individual had a special need, I dropped off a shelf-stable safe meal and a loaf of gluten-free yeast-free bread. In the other, I met with the dedicated, though tired, Medical staff. The pediatrician mentioned that she had a 2 month old who needed Alimentum. I told them I would get it. Where they asked? Next door at Rite Aid. Rite Aid was out, but I was able to find some at CVS.
If you or someone you know needs a safe shelf-stable foods, there are resources in the NYC/NJ area. The food banks below are ONLY taking LARGE donations from Food Manufacturers. If you would like to donate money, they would gladly accept it!
The following Food Banks ARE accepting donations from food manufacturers AND individuals:
Food Bank of Monmouth County is accepting special needs foods, 732-918-2600
The Community Food Bank of NJ is accepting special needs foods , (908) 355-3663
If anyone has immediate needs, please contact me at bklynallergymom (at) gmail (dot) com ; or at my kids with food allergies address: hbayer (at) kidswithfoodallergies (dot) org.
If you want to help, call your child’s allergist and ask them if they have any food allergy or special food needs patients that need assistance. The allergist may not be able to directly connect you, but may let you know how you can help.
Red Cross NYC (877) 733-2767
FEMA disaster assistance (800) 621-3362 / TTY (800) 462-7585
Bloggers with more good information:
Allergic Girl wrote a great post here.