History

AFAA began in September 2001 as a small support meeting hosted by its two founders.  Over the next months AFAA held its first no-food costume Halloween party and began advocating to get emergency epinephrine onto all Minnesota ambulances. After extraordinary effort, a bill passed and was signed into law in 2002.  Since then, ambulances have used epinephrine over 1,500 times in Minnesota.

Educational outreach has always been central to AFAA's work: it is the only organization with a food allergy Booth Outreach Program and a professional Speakers' Bureau.  AFAA worked with the MN Department of Education and the MN Department of Health on Guidelines for Medications in Schools; and established the annual Food Allergy Conference & Expo, and has co-hosted regional Seminars & Resource Fairs.

AFAA educated Congressional Members & staff about food labeling challenges and legislation through meetings and distribution of Issue Briefs: this grassroots advocacy from AFAA and other organizations eventually culminated in passage of the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act (FALCPA) in 2004.  In the same year, AFAA successfully overcame lobbyist opposition to legislation guaranteeing accessibility to epinephrine for MN students.

AFAA developed partnerships with other organizations and businesses to offer safe experiences for food allergic individuals.  Examples include MN Twins Baseball game sections (and subsequently Timberwolves, Lynx, and St. Paul Saints game sections); MN State Fair activities at a Healthfair booth for 12 days each year; the Allergy-Free Zone at the World's Largest Halloween Event at Mall of America; and Night Trains at the Twin City Model Railroad Museum.

In 2007 negotiated with Minnesota's medical insurance companies to cover elemental (amino acid) formula for those who are unable to eat any food whatsoever.  In 2009 AFAA organized support & collaborated with public officials, food distributors, food safety trainers, restaurant association, Chamber of Commerce, & other stakeholders for passage of the St. Paul food allergy restaurant ordinance; in 2010 joined the FDA Food Code Minnesota Rule Revision Advisory Committee; and in 2011 negotiated safety accommodations for the breakfast program in one of Minnesota's largest school districts.

AFAA spearheaded federal transportation policy change by meeting with the Vice-President of Northwest Airlines and policymakers, and gathering statements from over 2,000 food allergic passengers and providing them to Members of Congress and the US Department of Transportation.

AFAA’s Executive Director serves on the national Conference for Food Protection; MN Food Safety Partnership; national Food Allergy Initiative Advocacy Steering Committee (helping to obtain a $6 million increase in federal research funding); & food industry Touchpoint Resource Pool.  AFAA regularly provides research materials & testimony to Members of Congress, MN Legislature, City Councils, School Boards, and other policy makers including MN Dept. of Health, MN Dept. of Agriculture, US-FDA, USDA, and US-DOT.

In 2013 AFAA worked on stock epinephrine legislation in Minnesota, and is poviding US-FDA science-based comments on allergen threshold levels in manufactured foods.

It is estimated that AFAA has personal contact  with over 20,000 people per year. Adding media coverage, flier distribution, etc. AFAA's outreach efforts are considered extraordinary for a volunteer-run organization.