Community Outreach Grants At Work: Southern Nevada

gordinsIn 2014, FARE awarded more than $135,000 in grant support to 60 communities across the country to advance food allergy education, advocacy and awareness efforts as part of FARE’s 2014 Community Outreach Grants program. With these grants, FARE helps local food allergy leaders – support group leaders and FARE Walk for Food Allergy chairs – put on programs that will result in a better understanding of food allergies within their local communities. We’ll be highlighting grant recipients in our “Community Outreach Grants at Work” series, starting with this story about how food allergy parents Duane and Dana Gordin used FARE grant funding to raise awareness in the community and schools in Southern Nevada:

Duane and Dana Gordin have been FARE Walk for Food Allergy chairs and dedicated volunteers for many years with the mission of supporting students with food allergies in Southern Nevada schools. The Gordins submitted written grant proposals to FARE’s Community Outreach Grants program that helped them make a significant impact in Nevada’s Clark County School District (CCSD). Improving public school awareness was a priority for the Gordins because they had two boys with food allergies enrolled in the district.

With more than 445,000 students and 33,000 staff members, CCSD is the fifth largest school district in the nation. The Gordins knew that documented policies and procedures, also known as Food Allergy Management Guidelines, along with training sessions for staff would be a vital step children with food allergies, thus they boldly enlisted FARE’s walk grant program to make a difference. The Gordins had demonstrated outstanding leadership in the food allergy community through chairing successful FARE Walk for Food Allergy events in Las Vegas, so it was an easy decision for FARE to award Duane and Dana with the opportunity to help lead an extensive grant pilot project to help educate and train CCSD in collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The initiative kicked off with CCSD Principal Paula Naegle and the Gordins holding a meeting with CCSD’s superintendent and chief of staff, which they used as a starting point to create the first ever food allergy management guidelines and train and educate the entire CCSD staff. They fostered a partnership project that increased the capacity of 33,000 school staff members to promote, develop and implement policies and practices that support students with food allergies and anaphylaxis. Principal Naegle and the Gordins also launched the first school staff food allergy training events in CCSD.

In creating CCSD’s food allergy management guidelines, a team of CCSD key leaders and parents established policies, procedures and educational material for every principal, teacher, substitute teacher, bus driver, coach, counselor, school nurse, custodian and food service employee. They also helped to educate the district’s Safe Key program and Parent Teacher Association (PTA). In addition to the guidelines, the grants also provided FARE resources to all 360 CCSD schools. Each school received a binder full of food allergy and anaphylaxis information, the “Safe@School” CD ROM, books, posters and published materials. Finally, it was established that there would be an annual CCSD training requiring the staff to complete a mandatory video and test each year.

Over the years, the Gordins also implemented other Community Outreach Grants that focused on providing education resources for local restaurants, training local paramedics and providing seed funding for the first Food Allergy Bloggers Conference (FABlogCon). Duane and Dana graciously expressed, “It’s been an honor to represent FARE over the years and support all 445,000 Nevada students. The FARE Walk for Food Allergy and Community Outreach Grants brought awareness and education to the forefront and made a positive difference in our community. It took a while to see the results, but the hard work and diligence paid off by leaps and bounds!”

View a news clip of highlights of the FARE Walk for Food Allergy in Las Vegas:

View a full list of 2014 FARE Community Outreach Grant recipients.