Naperville mom helps food allergy sufferers travel safely

Updated 7/17/2013 10:20 AM
  • Courtesy of Mariano's

Naperville mom Amy Wicker was determined that her daughter's food allergies were not going to affect their family vacation. That was easier said than done, though.

She spent hours researching food-allergy friendly options on airlines and at vacation destinations, hotels and stops along the way. "Every time I plan a trip, I often think to myself, 'How many other people have made this same phone call?'"

That thought prompted Wicker to start

"This website is really a way for us to share our information and to stop reinventing the wheel each time we want to travel," Wicker said. "This gives (the food allergy sufferers and their families) the resources they need to better control their diets while traveling."

The website includes information on air travel, hotels with kitchens, restaurants, health food stores and medical facilities. Wicker and her staff do much of the research themselves and encourage tips and information from others in the food allergy community.

"If you find a restaurant that is willing to accommodate a food allergic individual, odds are they're going to be able to accommodate any other type of restricted diet," Wicker said.

Each time a user books their reservation through, a portion of the proceeds will be donated to AST to further advocate on the part of allergy sufferers and educate businesses about food allergies.

Healthier airport eats: If you're heading out of town via Midway International Airport this summer, a healthy preflight meal is now possible.

The airport's 10 eateries have earned designations as "F.I.T. City Establishments." That means the restaurants and grab-and-go spots met specific nutritional guidelines set by F.I.T. City, a collaborative restaurant-focused public health initiative undertaken by Building a Healthier Chicago, the American Medical Association, city of Chicago Department of Public Health and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services/Region V with help from the Institute of Medicine of Chicago, the Chicago Medical Society and the Midwest Business Group on Health.

"With so many adults and children consuming their daily meals away from home, restaurants here and across the nation are really the cornerstones for improving the public health status by incorporating more nutritious menu offerings," said Dr. James Galloway, founding chairman of Building a Healthier Chicago. He cited recent studies that American adults dine out an average of 4.8 times a week.

The restaurants at Midway International Airport include iconic Chicago eateries Harry Caray's and Taylor Street.

To market, to market: Join acclaimed chef Rodelio Aglibot of e+o in Mount Prospect July 17 as he shops at Mariano's Arlington Heights and prepares a meal using the store's products. The event, from 7 to 9 p.m., is free, but registration is required.

Register at the customer service desk at Mariano's, 802 E. Northwest Hwy., or call the store at (847) 253-5439.

• Contact Food Editor Deborah Pankey at (847) 427-4524. Be her friend at or follow her on Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest @PankeysPlate.

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