Going to your hometown baseball game to catch your favorite team in action may be a tradition for some families, but may also be a worrisome time for those with food allergies. We spoke with Lisa Giuriceo about how her family manages their daughter’s food allergies, while still enjoying their favorite pastimes. Her daughter, Patricia, is a 14 year old teenager who is allergic to wheat, eggs, fish, peanuts, tree nuts, oats, rye, barley peas, green beans and sesame seeds.
NPB: You are an advocate for not letting a food allergy stop you and your family from doing the things you all love – including attending sporting events. Why is that?
Lisa Giuriceo: My family’s life was turned upside down when we received Patricia’s food allergy diagnosis; we quickly realized that food allergies do not take a vacation and that we needed to manage them in daily life. She had to eat safely every day but it did not mean that she could not live a complete life while safely managing food allergies. I grew up attending NY Giant football games with my parents and my husband was a huge NY Yankee baseball fan. We wanted our daughter to participate in family outings to Giants and Yankee games while we figured out a way to safely manage her food allergies. We knew that she had to participate in daily activities like attending school, gymnastics class, shows, and concerts. We worked with our allergist to find ways to make that happen.
NPB: What considerations did you have to take into account before deciding to go to games?
Lisa Giuriceo: We knew that we had to carry Patricia’s epinephrine with us and we also knew that we had to bring safe food into the stadium for her to consume. We were not going to trust food concessions to prepare a meal for Patricia. We also knew that we were going to have to deal with people eating allergens around us but we thought we could take Patricia to a game. Prior to attending her first game we contacted the NY Giants office and explained our situation to them and they helped us find a way to attend the games. They put us in contact with stadium officials to work with us to form a plan.
NPB: What is your number one recommendation/tip for families who have food allergies and would like to attend their favorite sporting events?
Lisa Giuriceo: Contact the Stadium Disabled Services department and tell them you are attending the game with epinephrine, safe food, and provide them with your seat location. We have not had a problem with them sharing email addresses and contact names of people in those departments. This allows you immediate access and contact information to people who work in the stadium in case you have an emergency.
NPB: What are the steps you take prior to attending a game?
Lisa Giuriceo: Patricia has attended sporting events since she was 3 years old (I warned you we were serious fans). Here is how we do it: we bring food for Patricia to consume throughout the game. The football games are great because we make her meals at our family tailgate parties before Giants home games. We carry our epinephrine auto-injectors and Benadryl with us, and we always have a physician-signed copy of Patricia’s food allergy action plan with us.
Prior to attending a game at any stadium, we follow these 5 simple steps:
- We contact the stadium’s Disabled Services Department or Guest Services Department and inform them of Patricia’s multiple food allergies. We ask for an e-mail address and phone number of someone in stadium management so that we can correspond with them prior to attending the game.
- We inform stadium personnel of our seat location (section, row, and seat number).
- We also inform stadium officials of our daughter’s food allergies and of the fact that she will be bringing in safe food to consume during the game. (Remember to check the stadium’s bag policy before you attend the game. Each stadium or league may have different requirements for the size or time of bag that a person can carry into the facility.)
- We also inform stadium officials that we will carry Benadryl and our epinephrine auto-injectors into the game.
- Finally, we ask our stadium contact to inform any onsite medical personnel of our seat location in case we have an emergency and have to administer epinephrine during the game.
For more information on managing food allergies, visit peanutallergyfacts.org.