Meet the Mom Working to Make Food Allergies a Little Less Scary

Image Source:
Image Source: Denise Woodard

If you’re a parent, my guess is you know a child who has a food allergy. My sweet 4-year-old niece has the scary peanut allergy — if she’s exposed to even a trace amount of nuts it means hives, sickness, and possible anaphylactic shock. Epi-pens are constantly at the ready.

We love to have her sleep over, but it’s also a little scary. It means I have to do a complete sweep of my pantry to make sure everything that might contain nuts is well out of reach, and make sure I’m stocked with snacks she can safely eat.

Of course, it’s not just my niece I worry about. My daughter’s best preschool friend is allergic to dairy. Our neighbors have a child who can’t eat soy. This adds a layer of complexity to playdates, to say the least; snack time becomes very tricky business.

Again, if you’re a parent, I’m guessing you’ve done some version of this dance, because it turns out 1 in 13 children has a food allergy.

This is why I was so thrilled to learn about Partake Foods. It’s a new, mom-founded company making kid-friendly snacks completely free of the top eight allergens (wheat, tree nuts, peanuts, milk, eggs, soy, fish, and shellfish). Partake was founded by Denise Woodard, whose daughter Vivienne has a rare condition called food protein-induced enterocolitis syndrome (F-PIES), a type of food allergy affecting the gastrointestinal tract.

In other words, she’s a mom who has been there and she gets it.

What’s more, she’s gotten her company up and running in very short order. After her daughter’s diagnosis, Denise set out to find healthy, allergy-free snacks for her but came away frustrated and empty-handed. But rather than give up, she decided to just … create the solution herself.

Denise did some research on what setting up a snack company would entail, then cold-emailed James Beard Award-winning chef Shauna Ahearn, who runs Gluten-Free Girl, to see if she’d be interested in getting involved. (That’s a boss mom move if I’ve ever heard one. Who cold-emails a famous chef? A mom on a mission, that’s who!) Chef Ahearn loved the concept and quickly got on board.

After just a few months of figuring out production logistics and testing many variations of their recipes, they’re ready to go with three flavors of mini cookies: carrot oat, blueberry buckwheat, and sweet potato. Their Kickstarter launched yesterday, and in just 24 hours they’re over a third of the way to their goal.

Image Source: Partake Foods
Image Source: Partake Foods

But Denise and Shauna’s ambitions don’t end with their (yummy!) mini cookies. Babble spoke with Denise about her goals for Partake Foods, and she told us:

“In five years, we would love to be in mainstream grocery stores. We want our products to be fully accessible for families who are struggling with food allergies, and who want to feed their children something healthy and delicious.”

Ultimately they hope to have allergy-free solutions for entire meals like breakfast and lunch as well.

The reality is food allergies impact way too many of our kids. We’re grateful to Partake Foods for fighting the good fight to provide easy, healthy solutions and help keep our kids safe. Because playdates shouldn’t be scary.

You can donate to Partake Foods’ Kickstarter campaign and learn more about their business right here.

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