Hundreds gathered at Centennial Park Sunday to raise money and awareness for food allergies during the 3rd annual FAAN Food Allergy Walk.
Near six million children in America suffer from food allergies. In the past decade, that number rose almost 20 percent and it continues to rise.
FAAN, or the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network, is a non-profit organization based out of Fairfax, VA that works to provide information to millions of people regarding food allergies and food allergy education, and prevention.
9-year-old Clay Crews is allergic to peanuts, tree nuts, and shellfish. His allergies are so severe that a small amount of exposure could be life-threatening.
“30 years ago when I was in school, maybe one child in the whole school had a peanut allergy. Nowadays, you have two to three in each class,” explained his mother Cara.
According to statistics, food allergies are on the rise and the prevalence of peanut allergies has tripled since the late 1990s.
Cara told Nashville's News 2 planning for food allergies can be difficult.
“It takes a lot of planning on our part but we found out that if we plan, that people are willing to cooperate with us at restaurants and at school,” she said.
Clay hopes that as a youth ambassador he can help raise more awareness for food allergies.
FAAN is pushing for legislation that will make sure EpiPens are available in schools in the event a student has a food-related allergic reaction.