Q&A with the founder of S.A.F.E.

NEWS RELEASE: Heather Higdon, Director of Communications 

INDIAN HILL, OH (March 15, 2022) – Indian Hill High School student William Dalton was featured on WCPO’s Positively Cincinnati for his leadership and service in providing allergy sensitive foods through S.A.F.E (Supplying Allergy Food and Education), the organization he founded. 

Indian Hill High School student and founder of S.A.F.E (Supplying Allergy Food and Education), was recently featured on WCPO’s Positively Cincinnati for his leadership in food safety. (Provided)

The Indian Hill School District is proud of Dalton’s accomplishments and wanted to learn more about this amazing student who has been leading on this front since ELEMENTARY school!

Indian Hill School District (IHSD): William – you are making exciting headlines in Cincinnati, congratulations! Tell us about S.A.F.E. – how did you come up with this idea?

William Dalton (WD):

COVID-19 affected everyone in an insurmountable amount of ways. For most, it was a time full of the unknowns and feeling helpless in a world full of crazy things happening. For me, it was a period of realization; I realized that I was extremely privileged, and the gap between people who are and aren’t was growing an unsustainable amount, especially in our ability to access allergy-friendly food.

I also realized I couldn’t sit back and just watch. I set out to find a new approach to help people who were food insecure with food allergies in Cincinnati, and after a lot of brain-storming and brain-cramping, setbacks and progress being made, I finally started the first iteration of S.A.F.E. (Supplying Allergy Food and Education) in October of 2021.

The basic idea of S.A.F.E. is to help food pantries get allergy-friendly food to allocate to their clients through receiving donations from major allergy-food manufacturers and community members and sorting this food into a dedicated S.A.F.E. section to make it easier for the clients to shop. S.A.F.E. also provides education alongside the allergy food being distributed, through the magazine I write for, called E.D.I.T., which stands for Education, Discoveries, Information, and Tips, so clients have the resources to properly handle their food allergies as well.

IHSD: Where do you hope to see it go? What is your greatest hope for S.A.F.E.?

WD: Since the conception of it, I have since grown it into a non-profit organization that is partnered with five different pantries across the Greater Cincinnati area. S.A.F.E. has donated over 500 pounds of food to these pantries (translating to roughly 417 meals), distributed more than 200 copies of E.D.I.T., been featured on WCPO’s Positively Cincinnati, and so much more. These numbers only continue to grow. Over the past couple of weeks, I have been working on expanding S.A.F.E. to other regions outside of Cincinnati and have been in contact with people and food pantries in states like California, Rhode Island, Texas, and Florida, and am currently working with these pantries to get S.A.F.E. up and running in them as soon as possible.

My greatest hope for S.A.F.E. is that kids and really anyone with food allergies out there realize that they are not alone in the struggle to live with food allergies, and there are people and organizations out there willing to help and provide resources to them; and the fact that they should never feel inferior and like a burden because of their food allergies. I hope S.A.F.E. can help create a nationwide community of people who all realize this and in the end, have access to the food and education necessary to help them lead a safe and happy life.

IHSD: How can our community get behind the cause? How can we help?

WD: The Indian Hill community can help S.A.F.E. in multiple ways. Maybe the easiest thing to do, if you want to donate allergy food (or regular food), is to fill out this form: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/SQNP9Q2. You can donate a monetary value which will go towards buying food to supply the pantries with, write and print E.D.I.T., and all other operating costs of S.A.F.E., using this form: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/Q5K2XZT. And you can REALLY help by doing all of this on top of telling your friends and family and spreading the word about S.A.F.E. and how prevalent food insecurity is in those with allergies, and try to make those around you cognizant of this issue even if it does not affect them, and tell them they can help in whatever way possible, just head to S.A.F.E.’s website and check it out.

William Dalton, IHHS student founder of S.A.F.E. (Provided)

IHSD: What has been your favorite moment as a Brave?

WD: My favorite moment as a Brave so far has been going to the elementary school and having my monthly A.C.T. meeting, Allergy Care Talks, with kids from it as well as the primary school. It still leaves a smile on my face knowing that I’ve helped kids in the lower schools and kind of become a mentor/guiding hand/friend for them regarding navigating life with food allergies, something I wish I desperately had myself back when I was in primary and elementary school. When I was in elementary school, I worked as my own advocate, even presenting about food allergies to my building principal.

IHSD: What would you tell your peers to encourage them to take on a leadership role like what you have done about a cause they believe in?

WD: I would say, to quote Nike, “just do it.” If you have an idea, see a group of people you could help, have a passion and want to start a club, etc., no matter the reservations you may have, the fear/doubts lingering in your mind, just do it. Even if you fail, at least you tried. I think in the end, kids would be surprised how willing and open people are to helping you out and trying new things, so go for it!

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