16-year-old Casey Dubofsky, a sophomore at Jericho Highschool on Long Island, is allergic to fish and tree nuts. An incident when she was a child taught her to be “very cautious” about avoiding triggers of her food allergies.
When she was three years old, Casey had an anaphylactic reaction to a cookie containing tree nuts served to her at a restaurant. At the time, there was no epinephrine on hand — the only treatment for life-threatening anaphylaxis — because she had never been diagnosed with a food allergy before.
“My daughter’s throat was closing, she was screaming, and it was very scary,” said Casey’s father, Ned Dubofsky.
Now, Casey is taking steps to ensure that horrific incident isn’t repeated for others.
She started a nonprofit called “Safe Eats,” where she recruits Nassau County restaurants to join a program to train their staff how to use epinephrine auto-injectors.
But training staff doesn’t help much if epinephrine is not on hand. Because the cost for “stock” epinephrine auto-injectors is significant, she turned to her county legislator to find funding for her venture.
“We’re going to create a $25,000 pilot program through the Department of Health to give restaurants these EpiPens,” said Legislator Josh Lafazan.
If Lafazan’s bill passes the Nassau County legislature, it will provide funding to reimburse restaurants for the cost of epinephrine auto-injectors they would keep on hand to use in case of an anaphylactic emergency.
Chris and Tony’s Restaurant of Syosset is one of 12 restaurants to sign up for the program so far. “I think it’s a great idea. All restaurants should do it,” said proprietor, Chris Fichera.
See Casey and her family interviewed in this News 12 New York segment:
We at SnackSafely.com applaud Casey’s efforts and have no doubt that her tenacity and civic-mindedness will result in important changes that will benefit Nassau County and serve as a model for the country. Great work, Casey! We and the food allergy community are proud of you!