Friday, June 6, 2014

Social Studies 101

Thank you, Chairman and members of the committee.  It is such an overwhelming honor to be able to sit here, as a private citizen, in front of you to present this bill.  Senate Bill 730 is an education bill that would simply educate restaurant staff about food allergies and how to accommodate a very loyal customer base.  In my experience with eating out, the servers and chefs want to know what to do and how to serve us correctly and safely, but without the training, they just don’t know how.  The education this bill would bring would help tremendously.  A little educaion really does go a long way. 

There is a website called allergyeats that I consult every time we have to eat out.  It is a national list of restaurants that are reviewed by families and individuals with food allergies.   My family has been traveling up north quite a bit over these last several months and because of this list, we only eat at restaurants with high reviews.  But, we have eaten at the same two restaurants every time we go up.  Individuals and families with food allergies are extraordinarily loyal.  We have to be.  For us, eating out is a matter of life and death.  There is a real need for us to eat in a restaurant where there is training so that we can feel safe.  And if we feel safe, we will frequent that restaurant over and over.   And there are a lot of us out there.

It sounds kind of strange to say “every time we HAVE to eat out.”   I would love to be able to say, “every time we WANT to eat out.”  This bill would make that possible.

This was the little mini speech I gave yesterday afternoon in front of the Senate Regulatory Reform Committee in the state capitol.   In March I had given a longer speech, MUCH longer actually, about how helpful this bill would be for everyone living with food allergies.  The bill requires training for restaurant staff, a poster in the kitchen, and a notice asking customers to notify their server if they have food allergies.  

The first step in this process of making the bill into a law is getting it out of committee, where so many other bills are lost.  Once it passes through the committee, it moves onto the Senate floor.  If it passes off the floor, then it goes to the House of Representatives.  I know that there is still a journey ahead of us, but this first hurdle, I think, may be the most difficult.

And it passed.  Unanimously.

I did not expect that.  At all.  I knew there were at least two members of the committee who objected to the bill.  

Unanimous.  Unbelievable.

I cried.  

And then I snorted.

Really loud.

But it passed!