HomeRaising awareness with food allergy t-shirts: Meet #FoodAllergyChampion Ruth

Raising awareness with food allergy t-shirts: Meet #FoodAllergyChampion Ruth

May 14, 2021

Ruth is a creative food allergy mom from Waterdown, ON who is passionate about raising food allergy awareness. In time for Food Allergy Awareness Month, Ruth designed t-shirts, and is selling them on her Instagram page @ruthcreates.ca to raise awareness and funds for a cause important to her, and to give back to Food Allergy Canada. 

Each t-shirt is custom-made and lists individual food allergen(s), and with each t-shirt sold, a portion of the sales will be donated directly to our organization. In addition, Ruth set up a Food Allergy Canada fundraising page for those who aren’t affected by food allergy, but still want to support her mission.

Read our interview with Ruth below to learn more about her t-shirt fundraiser and what inspired her to start the initiative and spread awareness of food allergy.

Tell us a little bit about yourself. How are you impacted by food allergy?

I don’t have food allergies myself, but my family does. My husband is allergic to mango, and my son Hunter is allergic to barley, wheat, egg, peanut, and avocado. Hunter’s first anaphylactic reaction was at 7 months.

Hunter smiling

Tell us about the t-shirt initiative you started. What prompted you to start a fundraiser and choose Food Allergy Canada as your charity of choice?

A couple months ago, I wanted to start a fundraiser to make a difference and to raise awareness for food allergy, especially for kids with food allergies like Hunter. I searched online to see how I could get one started and that’s when I came across Food Allergy Canada’s website.

Being in the creative field, I decided to design and make t-shirts that people can wear to inform others about their food allergens. Plus, the shirts have a “Proud Supporter of Food Allergy Canada” logo on the sleeve to promote and spread awareness about the organization. You can order a customized shirt through my Instagram page @ruthcreates.caFacebook page, or email.

My goal with the t-shirts is for them to be a conversation starter. I hope when people wear them, they are more confident about letting others know about their allergy and the foods they need to avoid. Also, I added a “+” sign to represent the food allergen(s) to which they tested positive. (Note from Food Allergy Canada: Allergists learn your history and then may perform a combination of tests to confirm a food allergy.)

How has the response been so far?

The community has been supportive. People have reached out saying it’s a cool idea, and that they were happy to support by sharing the t-shirts with their online community. By creating a t-shirt for one of my friends, I even learned about another allergy of theirs!

Ruth and family

How does food allergy affect your/your family’s life? What is it like managing food allergy? Where do you go for support?

Our family has to be very careful. We sanitize tables, triple check food labels, and always wash our hands and mouths to make sure that when we’re interacting with Hunter, he doesn’t have a reaction. The same goes with my family and my husband’s family. We make sure everyone is aware of his allergens and have taken precautions like washing hands before they interact with Hunter.

We also make special food that’s safe for him to eat. One strategy we use in our kitchen is using two separate sinks – one for Hunter’s food, and one for the rest. Outside our home, we are very cautious and make sure to carry auto-injectors wherever we go in case of a reaction.

Before I found Food Allergy Canada, my husband and I would go to our doctor for support. We also searched a lot of things online and sometimes I would ask my sister who is a nurse and my mom who is a retired nurse. But even with that, I felt like it still wasn’t enough since the Internet can give you all sorts of random facts and my mom and my sisters knowledge on food allergies is minimal. 

Now, Food Allergy Canada’s website is our go-to resource for credible information and support. There is a lot of helpful content on the site, and I’m always learning new things to help manage Hunter’s food allergies.

Are there other ways you are supporting food allergy awareness this month?
I also set up a fundraising page through Food Allergy Canada’s website for others who want to support food allergy awareness.

Thank you Ruth for sharing your story with us and for being a #FoodAllergyChampion! You can support food allergy awareness and Ruth’s initiatives below. A portion of each t-shirt sale will be going directly to Food Allergy Canada. 

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