In Westwood, New Jersey, two mothers of children with severe food allergies recently founded a support group for other parents of allergic children. There, parents can share stories and learn strategies for helping their child cope with his or her allergies.

According,Cheryl Chang and Jennifer Bonerbo originally founded FAST, or the Food Allergy Support Team, to work with school staff members on ways to keep allergic kids safe in school. About three years ago, they expanded the group, becoming Support Parents of Allergic Kids (SPOAK).

SPOAK has been listed as an official support group by the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network (FAAN). It is one of eight listed groups in New Jersey. To qualify for this list, the group must meet several requirements, including advisory by a board-certified allergist. SPOAK’s medical advisor is Dr. Jennifer Sherman, who is the allergist treating one of the founder’s sons.

At each meeting, guest speakers share advice, and members can ask questions or share stories in an open forum. Sometimes, older children will attend, speaking about what they have experienced growing up with food allergies. According to Chang, one of the latest ‘hot topics’ is how to work with schools, and what type of accommodations can be made for children with allergies.

Do you have a food allergy support group in your region?

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