I have 35 years’ experience within the catering industry and over the last few years I have seen a significant rise in the number of special dietary requirements for customers eating out. I also have seen for myself the impact that suffering with an allergy or food intolerance has on a person’s daily life.
I was Head of Catering at Manchester Metropolitan University for over 9 years and whilst we were adapting to the new laws relating to allergies I suddenly had to cope with my daughter- 15 years old at the time – suffering with reactions to food groups. Sophie, in her GCSE year at school suffered reactions to food that kept her off school for at least 3 days at a time. This affected her attendance at school and added to the stressful GCSE exam period.
Now 19 years old and just completed her 1st year at University she is now managing her diet well. Her meals are now gluten free, lactose free, no potatoes and no maize and is quite complicated to find foods to suit but with imagination we now have quite a good set of “go to” recipes.
I had not really appreciated that food allergies affect your daily life in such a way and the University students are a particularly vulnerable group. Students are away from home adjusting to independent living and cooking and shopping for themselves. Not wanting to appear different and trying to eat out become a cause for concern and this can be a challenge.
I am so passionate about making a difference, I decided to leave my employment at MMU to set up my own business, JACS Ltd. I provide allergen training, support, advice and also work with Allergen Accreditation to support FBO to ensure they are providing allergy free food in a safe environment.
The #onemcpeakechallenge’19 now in its 2nd year has been launched to highlight the issues faced by an allergy sufferer on a daily basis- eating out, shopping and cooking all have to be undertaken with an extra level of care. I have set the challenge to my team previously at Manchester Metropolitan University and it proved to be a very successful exercise.
All participants will remove one key allergen from their diet for 2 weeks and will report back their experiences good and bad. We are particularly interested in engaging those in the catering industry so that they have a better understanding of their allergy customer’s needs
The money raised will provide much needed funds to support TheAWord in their campaign to support Anaphylaxis and Allergies. This challenge was very successful last year and we are hoping to raise more awareness and more funds this year
The #onemcpeakechallenge’19 has now gone live to allow participants time to plan and organise for the 2 weeks in October. The Challenge will take place from 1st -15th October and everyone is encouraged to join in or just donate at the GoFundMe page.