A New Era of Drop-Off Envy

It’s been quite a few years since my venture into food allergy advocacy. As my children grew older and were able to advocate for themselves I became busy with my work, their activities, and well you know, life. Recently I have become an empty nester. While this life transition sparks different things in different people, it has reminded me of one thing I wasn’t prepared for “Drop-off envy.”

Years ago, I coined the term “Drop-Off Envy” when sharing an experience at the bus stop. After we watched all of the excited kids get on the bus for their field trip, the parents all high-fived each other with excitement to have their children gone all day. I on the other hand turned and prayed, please let them come home safe. The reason is, field trips were out of my comfort zone.

I had worked tirelessly to try to get the school admin and families to understand the dangers, but outside the school, 200 packed lunches in an environment other than the cafeteria, the thought of it made me a mess. While other parents were out enjoying their day, possibly losing track of time, and maybe even wishing the field trip was longer, I was home counting down the minutes until they got home safely.

Fast forward, I’ve now graduated to college drop-offs and with all of the emotion tied to it, one thing I was not prepared for was that feeling of “drop-off envy.” What if they party, stay out late, and have the munchies? Maybe they think it is a pretzel piece but it is a pretzel piece filled with peanut butter. Will they carry their Epi-pens EVERYWHERE? Will anyone notice if they are having an allergic reaction? I was plagued with fear for so many different reasons than other parents dropping off their college students.

Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve read about three devastating fatalities from food allergies. (Jess Prinsloo – (24) Dairy Allergy, Omar Osman (26) Nut Allergy, and Emerson Kate Cole (9) ) These stories hit me at the core. It’s like being punched in the gut, having the wind knocked out of you and then I go retreat to my lonely dark place until the weight of sadness and fear begins to slowly lighten. While the ages and sex of these innocent beautiful beings were different, the one thing they all shared was that their death was accidental. I feel the anguish for those families, the devastation to all those who knew and loved them, and the anger at how this could possibly have been avoided.  

Now that I am an empty nester, I decided to continue my passion for food allergy education and awareness. While things have gotten better over the last 20 years, if I can offer anything to help make the lives of those suffering from food allergies and those caring for them easier, I am in. Until there is a cure for food allergies, education and awareness play a big role. Practicing avoidance is currently the only way to prevent anaphylaxis. Having an emergency plan in place with the use of epinephrine is the only chance one has to manage the reaction.    

I hope you can find some of the tools I have used over the years helpful.  

Nothing but gratitude and heartache for grieving Mom, Kellie Travers-Stafford. If you feel anything other…PLEASE do not share it here!

My heart breaks for the Stafford Family. I am both touched and grateful to Kellie Travers-Stafford who has been so brave in opening up and sharing her story about the tragic death of her daughter Alexi from a peanut allergy. This story hits close to home for many and is a horrific reminder of our reality and the worst nightmare for any parent and/or child living with food allergies.

I have been struggling with the many negative reactions, shaming and blaming that so many feel compelled to post regarding the tragic death of Alexi. Because of these types of posts, I decided years ago to be selective when engaging in conversation to educate others on food allergies. To those who have typed anything but condolences for this family,  here is what I want you to know.

Yes, every tragic food allergy death could have potentially been avoided somehow some way. They are ACCIDENTAL, and that is what makes this disease so challenging on so many levels. Alexi’s death was a tragic accident and speaking as a mother of two teens with life-threatening food allergies, who are extremely vigilant (as it sounds like Alexi was), this could have easily been my children.

We eat Chips Ahoy. They have been a “standby” staple cookie in my family for years. Yes, we train on reading every label every time, but these kids are teens, and if they grew up for years with one cookie out of the hundreds on a grocery store shelf that was safe, they may just have let their guard down for a moment, never thinking that their trusted product had changed.

This is a tragic accident and the worst nightmare of any parent and/or child living with food allergies. There are approximately 200 deaths per year from food allergies. I feel confident in saying that 99.9% of these were accidental. We live our entire life working to eliminate risk, ask the right questions, read labels, avoid products that may contain, educate on the dangers of food allergies, carry an Epi-pen and remove those incapable of understanding right along with high-risk foods and restaurants from our lives, but still, accidents happen.

I’m sure you teach your children life skills and hope that they make smart and safe decisions. One day even with all of your best parenting efforts, your child may be involved in an accident. Accident as defined by Merriam-Webster “an unforeseen and unplanned event or circumstance” and like many accidents, yes it’s possible it could have been avoided. My hope is that you never have to experience someone putting the blame on you and your child on how this tragic turn of events could have been avoided. I can pretty much guarantee if you do, it won’t be the parent of a child with food allergies!

In pursuit of the nut free granola bar.

In pursuit of the nut free granola bar, I find my self (against my better judgement) turning down the snack aisle in the grocery store. I do it cautiously, as if I am lurking in muddy waters hoping that no one is watching. I look around and start to pick up an assortment of boxes, one by one,  intently reading the labels in the hopes that one box will not contain or be labeled “may contain” for peanuts or nuts. That this one day will be the jackpot, and I will be able to buy a package of store bought granola bars.For some reason I am compelled to repeatedly perform this task  knowing that most likely the outcome will remain the same, no store bought granola bars for us.

Over the years I have made a number of healthy safe granola bars and snacks. I have an arsenal of  Food Allergy Cookbooks I recently came across this recipe  on allerrecipes. My kids LOVE it. These granola bars are tasty and turn out crunchy, so make sure you like the crunchy type of granola bars. They travel well and are good for after school and sporting activities. You can modify these to your dietary needs. I included the variations we made below.



  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup wheat germ (I used flax)
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour (I used Gluten Free)
  • 3/4 cup raisins (optional) (I used currants)
  •  3/4 teaspoon salt (I skipped)

  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Generously grease a 9×13 inch baking pan.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together the oats, brown sugar, wheat germ, cinnamon, flour, raisins and salt. Make a well in the center, and pour in the honey, egg, oil and vanilla. Mix well using your hands. Pat the mixture evenly into the prepared pan. ( I used my hands the first time and would not recommend this. I used a spatula the second time, much easier!)
  3. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes in the preheated oven, until the bars begin to turn golden at the edges. Cool for 5 minutes, then cut into bars while still warm. Do not allow the bars to cool completely before cutting, or they will be too hard to cut.