STRATFORD—Shaelyn Averaimo, an eighth-grade student at St. Mark School in Stratford, recently met with Senator Chris Murphy and Senator Richard Blumenthal’s office about passing the Food Allergy Safety Treatment Education & Research (FASTER) Act.
According to Shaelyn, the FASTER Act would ensure food ingredients are listed in “plain” wording and allocate more money towards research and development for a food allergy cure.
Shaelyn has a life-threatening food allergy and is a strong advocate for herself and other young people like her. She is a Teen Advisory Group (TAG) member for Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE), the world’s largest private funder of food allergy research. Shaelyn works on youth projects, creates content for the company’s website, and serves as a leader at national events.
She recently attended Courage at Congress 2021, FARE’s second annual advocacy event on March 8-10. The three-day event was a virtual gathering this year, allowing more members of the community to have their voices heard by key members of Congress and work on passing H.R. 1202, the FASTER Act.
The bill would update allergen labeling laws to include sesame and would require the federal government to analyze the most promising research opportunities to help scientists develop more effective treatments and, ultimately, a cure for food allergies.
“More than 1.5 million people are allergic to sesame, yet it is not required to be included on any product labels,” shares Shaelyn. “We will not stop advocating for this critical piece of legislation until we get sesame labeled.”
Shaelyn adds, “Also, 32 million people suffer from food allergies, but there is only one FDA-approved treatment, and it only helps those with peanut allergy. We must collect national data on Americans’ exposure to food allergens and prevalence of food allergies to specific allergens.”
In 2020, the FASTER Act passed the United States House of Representatives on November 17 and the United States Senate on December 9. Due to some minor changes in the bill in the Senate, it needed to go back to the House for a final vote. Unfortunately, the legislative clock ran out.
In February 2021, the bill was reintroduced and on March 3, the U.S. Senate unanimously passed the FASTER Act, moving the legislation one step closer to law.
Shaelyn suggests, “If you live with a food allergy or have a loved one with a food allergy, please contact your Representative, ask them to co-sponsor H.R. 1202 and pass it. Also, please contact your Senator and let them know that more needs to be done by way of funding and research to protect over 32 million people from life-threatening food allergies.”
Next fall, Shaelyn will be attending Sacred Heart Academy in Hamden where she hopes to join the Track Team, the Drama Club and focus on Science, Mandarin, and making new friends. She also hopes to continue to advocate for food allergy awareness when the opportunity presents itself.
For more information, please visit Shaelyn’s Instagram Account (shaeallergy07) and website (www.nowheyshae.com), both dedicated to food allergy awareness.