After 12 Years, Advocates and Lawmakers Secure Win for 218,000 Schoolchildren
MCLEAN, Va., Sept. 18, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — FARE (Food Allergy Research & Education) thanks food allergy advocates, and Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal (D/WF-Manhattan), State Senator Cordell Cleare (D-30), Governor Kathy Hochul, and their staffs for passing Senate Bill S209A, an epinephrine auto-injector teacher training bill, signed into law on Friday evening. The tireless efforts of our advocates were instrumental in getting this bill, a version of which was originally introduced more than 12 years ago, passed.
Senate Bill S209A goes into effect immediately and requires that the state’s commissioner of health provide the state’s more than 212,000 teachers in all New York public and non-public elementary and secondary schools, including charter schools, that are authorized to provide epinephrine auto-injectors, written information on how to recognize anaphylaxis and use an epinephrine auto-injector.
“On behalf of the more than 218,000 New York state students with life-threatening food allergies, FARE is grateful for the work of Senator Cleare, Assemblymember Rosenthal, Governor Hochul, and advocates like Stacey and Jared Saiontz and Jill Mindlin and Maya Konoff,” said Sung Poblete, RN, PhD, CEO of FARE. “For more than 12 years they fought an uphill battle to make our classrooms safer. With today’s bill signing, we celebrate their determination that will ultimately protect millions of food allergic children in the years that follow.”
This new teacher training law ensures that students are better protected and safer in the place where they spend most of their day – the classroom. FARE Advocates Jill Mindlin and Stacey Saiontz, parents of school age children, led the decade-plus long effort to pass this legislation. “Thanks to the hard work of advocates and lawmakers, all teachers in New York State will now be provided with the knowledge of how to save a student’s life if they experience anaphylaxis in school. This law will make a huge difference in the lives of all NY families with school aged children living with food allergies,” says Mindlin.
Saiontz added that “today’s bill means parents can send their food allergic children to school knowing their teachers are trained to protect them. And kids can go to school and learn, less anxious about their ever-present, life threatening, food allergies.” Saiontz and Mindlin were joined over the last decade by many advocates who shared their passion including Patty Albert, Sara Albert, Zara Atal, Lauren Bowler, Dina Cannistraci, Georgina Cornago, Toni Guidosi, Sue Kelly, Rose & Julian Ostrow, Karen Palmer, Liz Rappaport, Thomas Silvera, Jon Terry and Toni Taylor from the Allergy Advocacy Association, and others.
Maya Konoff, Jill Mindlin’s daughter, who first lobbied for this measure when she was in elementary school and is now a college graduate, shared, “There are a lot of things that can be difficult and anxiety inducing when you’re growing up with food allergies. School should not be one of those things. This bill is such an important step in ensuring that all kids with food allergies can safely attend school.”
Over the 12-year lobbying effort, food allergy advocates were joined by teachers, who wanted this essential information, to help build momentum for this law. FARE anticipates working with these involved teachers, food allergy advocates and other stakeholders to ensure the Commissioner of Health’s materials are easy to understand and contain examples of different epinephrine auto-injectors.
Jared Saiontz, who has 26 anaphylactic food allergies and has been advocating for this bill in Albany every year since the age of four, added, “Thank you to our NY legislators for making the teacher training law a reality. As a student living with many life-threatening food allergies, I know this law will allow all students like me to thrive in school without fear, knowing that the teachers around them have the tools and training to protect us.”
About FARE: FARE (Food Allergy Research & Education) is the nation’s leading non-profit engaged in food allergy advocacy as well as the largest private funder of food allergy research. FARE’s innovative education, advocacy and research initiatives transform the future of food allergy through new and improved treatments and prevention strategies, effective policies and legislation, and novel approaches to managing the disease. To learn more, visit: www.foodallergy.org.