“Regular People Do Extraordinary Things All the Time”

Artist and substitute teacher Jennifer Domal has managed multiple food allergies since early childhood. In an interview, the West Chester, PA, resident reflects on food allergy awareness, friendship and kindness to strangers.

“This generation of children is more allergy-aware than any before it. They’ve grown up that way since preschool. So if I say, ‘You can’t eat that food in here,’ they immediately clean it up, get the wipes, wipe down the table, wipe the back of the chair, and get rid of the food. They eat outside, wash their hands, tell me that they washed their hands and dried them with a paper towel and ask, ‘Is that okay? Or do I need to do it again?’”

“Little kids don’t want to not eat with their friends. If they have one friend who can’t eat that food, that’s enough, because these little kids are food aware. It’s amazing that the kids have that kind of solidarity.”

“I think that people in general do amazing things every day. For example, Andrew at Wawa (that’s a local convenience store). I didn’t have my reading glasses and this young man was working in the cooler filling up the drinks. I’d asked the manager to help me read the label but he’s the same age as me, so he couldn’t read it either. So Andrew came out and said, ‘I can help you,’ and he was so cheerful and genuine. He came to the dreaded “natural flavors” and I’m like, ‘Yeah, I can’t have that.’ They had run out of coconut water, they only had coconut water with pineapple, which I can’t have. So Andrew said, ‘Let me check,’ and he went through every single rack. I could see him in the back of the cooler. He probably went through 10 racks, and he found one container of regular coconut water. Just one. He brought it out for me and gave me this most engaging smile. I wished I could take his picture and send it to his mom, because his mom would be so happy knowing she raised this young man so well. Ordinary, everyday, regular people do extraordinary things all the time.”

This Food Allergy Awareness Week, let’s celebrate the allies and advocates who make life better for people of all ages managing food allergy. Tag someone who helps you in your journey via our Facebook, Twitter or Instagram post.