The Anaphylaxis and Food Allergy Association of Minnesota (AFAA) is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization whose mission is to educate, advocate, and to support those with food allergies.
AFAA membership includes families, doctors, nurses, dieticians, teachers, and food personnel. With over 4,000 associate members, AFAA is the largest state-based food allergy support organization in the U.S. AFAA encourages and mentors the development of support groups in local communities (Duluth, Brainerd, St. Cloud, Howard Lake, Waconia, Rochester, St. Paul) who meet AFAA's medical criteria. AFAA is a volunteer-run organization: it has no paid staff members or paid board members.
AFAA's motto is: Taking the Fear out of Food Allergies. Severe food allergy reactions annually result in about 50,000 emergency room visits and the death of 150-200 people in the U.S. About 8% of children are affected by food allergies, and 1-2% of adults. Approximately 15 million Americans have food allergies. Nearly 55,000 Minnesota school children have food allergies — nearly double in ten years' time.
AFAA began in September 2001 with a small support meeting hosted by Jeff Schaefer and Nona Narvaez (spouses). Over the next months AFAA held its first no-food costume Halloween party and began advocating to get emergency epinephrine (epinephrine counteracts allergic reactions) onto all Minnesota ambulances. After extraordinary effort, a bill passed and was signed into law.
Over the past ten years, AFAA has
Each year AFAA hosts an annual Food Allergy Conference & Expo (the only food allergy trade show in the U.S.). Leading food allergy speakers offer presentations and training, and companies from the U.S., Canada, Australia, and the U.K. participate in the trade show.
AFAA established the Booth Outreach Program - staffing food allergy booths at various Minnesota conferences and conventions, including the 12 days at the Minnesota State Fair's HealthFair, which educates thousands of people each year. AFAA also operates a Speakers' Bureau which gives presentations and in-service training to schools, daycares, and other groups; and a popular E-Magazine.
Food-safe activities are arranged throughout the year - such as the Food Allergy Awareness Walk; annual music concert; museum outings; Lynx or Timberwolves Basketball or Twins Baseball skybox; 4th of July parade marching; Holidazzle parade marching; playdates for children - and hosts thousands at the Mall of America's Allergy-free Zone as a part of its "World's Largest Indoor Trick-or-Treating" event.
It is estimated that AFAA had personal contact with over 19,000 people per year. Adding media coverage, flier distribution, etc. AFAA's outreach efforts are considered extraordinary.