FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — There are only a few days left to donate to a local drive collecting allergy-friendly food.

Haas Hall Academy student Hemali Gauri is allergic to garlic and eggs. Over the years, she said she’s noticed the lack of food allergy awareness within her community and is passionate about educating more people about the struggles that come along with food allergies.

To raise awareness, Gauri created K12Allergies, a website and social media platform for parents of kids with food allergies to share their stories and resources. One issue that stood out to her was the amount of low-income families trying to find allergy-safe options at their local food bank.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, food allergies affect one in 13 children and increase food insecurity rates in the area. Gauri said in households with allergies, the percentage of people experiencing food insecurity increases by a third.

Gauri started the drive with another student experiencing food allergies. Maycee Dawdy said another barrier for families is the price of allergen-free food.

“Food should be a basic human need that should be met for everyone. So that just kind of makes me sad to think about how some people don’t have that, especially how it makes it worse for people with allergies because things that are allergy-free can be more expensive. So if they can barely afford to buy the things that aren’t expensive, allergies make it worse,” said Dawdy.

You can help families with food allergies by donating gluten-free options, dairy-free milk, canned food, rice, and nut-free snacks. There’s a drop-off bin inside the Fayetteville Public Library preschool area.

Food Drive

“We’ve gotten a lot of donations, I can really see how people who are impacted by these allergies really feel the need to give back because they know that this is a really significant thing,” said Gauri.

The drive benefits the NWA Food Bank.