Food Allergy Can Openers: Rachel & her children


Blog Post #153 — Recently, I asked for nominations for Food Allergy CAN Openers. Kathryn Hulslander told me about her incredible, supportive sister, Rachel.  Here is what she said...

My sister, Rachel, is a CAN opener in my life, in my children’s, and even in strangers! She is someone who see’s the positive and chooses to react calmly in almost any situation. Once she’s given the facts it’s like her brain absorbs them and she’ll never forget. I believe she would step in and help anyone no matter what the situation was. When it comes to food allergies she just gets it. She understands how hard it is to be a mother of special needs children and the fear that comes daily with raising them in a food driven world.

I’m not sure when it clicked for Rachel, but she understands how severe food allergies can be. If we come over for a dinner or play date she wipes down the tables, chairs, counters, and door knobs. Her children won’t eat anything with peanut or tree nuts before we come over or before they come over to our house. Her family completely stopped using peanut oil to cook with and always checks every package for us before we eat anything there. She even has one designated counter to make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. I like to think she does all this because I am her favorite sister, but I know she would do it for anyone. 

When we go out to eat she’ll speak up for us and make sure the waitstaff knows we have food allergies. She never gives us a hard time if we choose not to eat something or attend an event. On top of all of that, she is raising her three elementary aged children to be CAN openers too. Nothing warms my heart more than seeing another five year old reassure my son they didn’t eat anything peanuts so they can play together. 

My name is Kathryn Hulslander. I am a mother of three. My two oldest children have food allergies. Our 9 year old suddenly developed an allergy to tree nuts (almond and hazelnut) at the age 8. Our 5 year old developed an allergy to peanuts around the age of 2, after his 4th or 5th exposure. I’m thankful for the allergy community and pages like The Land of Can for helping me navigate the allergy world! 


JJ Vulopas is a rising senior at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. An advocate for young people, JJ has lived with food allergies his entire life. He is the author of the children's book, Land of Not. You can read his daily blog at Follow him on Instagram and on Twitter @thelandofcan.