What to Do When the Cost of a Food Allergy is a Burden


Catering to a food allergy can be expensive. In fact, the cost of raising a child with a food allergy is about $4,184 for each child per year. This includes a variety of expenses, including medications, emergency care and specialty food.

A food allergy can be a financial burden to a family. However, this burden can be lessened with the help of certain resources. This guide will show you financial assistance information that can make it easier to afford your child’s food allergy. 

The Problem of Food Allergy Costs

The cost of food allergies is becoming a social problem, especially as rates of food allergies are on the rise. It’s estimated that two million people living in the U.S. are in poverty along with having food allergies or celiac disease, explains an article in Allergic Living. Even more than that use food banks. 

The combination of poverty and food allergies could especially impact people of color, as they have higher rates of poverty as well as higher rates of food allergies.

Managing Food Costs

Around the country, specific food pantries have made themselves allergy-friendly, at least to some extent. The Allergic Living article lists these allergy-friendly food pantries: Food Equality Initiative in Overland Park, Kansas; Pierce’s Pantry in Massachusetts; Garden of Health in Souderton, Pennsylvania; National Gluten-Free Food Bank Movement in Denver, Colorado; and S.A.F.E. (Supplying Allergy Friendly and Emergency) Food Pantry in Columbia, Maryland.

If you do not live near one of these food pantries, check whether a local food pantry carries safe food. If it doesn’t, consider sharing these case studies and encouraging its management to follow suit. If your local food pantry is not allergy-friendly, follow some of the advice of Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE) on how to use a food pantry with a food allergy. FARE recommends that you:

  • Alert the staff to the food allergy and ask for assistance in finding safe food

  • Read labels just as you would in a supermarket

  • If food is prepared on site, ask about cross-contact procedures

It can be challenging to afford allergy-friendly foods while on SNAP or WIC government programs, according to the Allergic Living article. Food allergy-friendly food pantries can help, but these are limited and more options need to be made available to struggling families.

For some ideas on how to save money on safe foods, check out our post on shopping for wheat- and gluten-free foods on a budget. Its tips can be useful for other food allergies as well.

Reduced-Cost Epinephrine Auto-Injectors

If your child’s allergy puts them at risk for severe reactions such as anaphylaxis, it’s essential to always have epinephrine auto-injectors on hand. Unfortunately, these can be expensive, and in some cases unaffordable for a lot of families.

However, you can take advantage of savings programs and different versions of auto-injectors to cut costs on the same drug. For example, the manufacturer offers a Mylan Specialty My EpiPen Savings Card that can save up to $300 for a 2-pack of EpiPen. If you have health insurance and your household income falls under $100,000, AUVI-Q is $0 if you receive it by direct delivery. Also, you can compare the costs of other auto-injector brands and consider reduced-cost generic versions.

You can also look into drug assistance programs. Through these programs, people who are uninsured or underinsured can have access to medications like epinephrine auto-injectors.

Food allergies can be a financial burden to any family and to families in poverty in particular. Hopefully, food assistance programs will expand to better assist those needing safe foods. Until then, try using our tips on medication assistance, food pantries and shopping on a budget.

Do you have any tips on saving money you’d like to share?