Peanut Allergy Scholarship – Entrepreneurs share many common characteristics – they are innovative, persistent, passionate, creative. But social entrepreneurs have something special – they want to make the world a better place.
When J.J. Jaxon was named a Coca-Cola Scholar as a high school student in 1994. He did not plan to become an entrepreneur. After college and co-op, he started working as a banker. 20 years later, he left the bank with a new job: removing baby food.
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Peanut Allergy Scholarship
Read in their own words that after learning their daughter’s peanut allergy was preventable, J.J. and Catherine Jackson worked with one of the world’s leading pediatric allergists, Dr. Gideon Lack, to create Mission MightyMe, a snack that could cause a breakthrough in the childhood food allergy epidemic.
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Mission MightyMe is a revolutionary food company that makes it easy (and delicious) to follow the new guidelines for peanut allergy prevention by including peanuts in children’s diets early and often.
We formed a company with Dr. Gideon Lack, who investigates the prevention of symptoms of Food Allergy (LEAP Study) has made the first breakthrough in giving children food in the world. We are on a mission to end the food allergy epidemic.
When our first child was born, the current pediatric advice was to not let babies eat common allergenic foods – like peanuts – in infancy. We followed that recipe, but when he ate his first pineapple at the age of three, he has severe allergies. He is now allergic to most fruits, and probably will be for life.
Our third child was born the same year the LEAP study was published, which showed that children who avoided peanuts (like our daughter did) were 5 times more likely to develop peanut allergies than those who ate peanuts early and often. . And indeed, nut allergy rates tripled in the 20 years after prevention strategies were put in place. So LEAP education is a game changer!
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We are sad that we did not know about prevention when our eldest was born, but we have great hope that now there is something we can do proactively to help prevent our newborns from developing food poisoning. And it looks so easy – just feed the baby! But in practice, it is very difficult, because nuts and nut butters are dangerous for babies … and the whole industry of children’s food is nuts and tree nuts.
So, we teamed up with the doctors who led the LEAP study and together we created the food we wish our babies had.
It can be difficult. Every meal, food, and other thing outside of their home can be a minefield for walking on the opportunity to be happy.
Imagine what it would be like to feel some sense of dread every time you eat something. Food is very much a community and often what brings us together, but for children with severe food allergies, they can feel excluded and afraid all the time.
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I remember it very well. We are shocked. It’s not even on our radar as something to worry about and it’s scary because some food allergies can be life-threatening.
I once heard a mother liken seeing her child have an anaphylactic reaction to seeing her drowning and not being able to stand. It’s a hopeless feeling and my heart goes out to any parent who has experienced it.
What made you jump from dealing with your daughter’s disagreements to starting this company and creating this product?
First, when the LEAP survey came out in 2015, it meant a lot to us. It shows the world that there is a magical window in childhood, before food intake, when children’s immune systems can be taught to tolerate food instead of fighting it.
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Second, we were drawn to the simplicity of feeding babies, but we were disappointed by how difficult it was, because there was no baby food on the market to help parents.
And finally, we know from our own experience in a family with food allergies that food allergies are a serious problem. Did you know that 1 in 13 children in the United States today has an eating disorder? How crazy is that? As a food allergy family, we feel we are in an important position to do something.
Honestly, it’s scary. We’ve struggled with a lot of uncertainty and it’s a real start from the situation on both sides. But we really believed in it and got a lot of encouragement from friends and family to give it a shot.
Dr. When Lack, the author of the LEAP survey, said they wanted to work with us, we knew it was something we had to do. Nothing is easy, but the mission keeps us going.
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The most surprising thing is how difficult it is to create the product we want. There are many developers who can do it and still believe in the mission. But, because the big food companies want completely nut-free factories, few producers can bring nuts into their facilities without turning off large contractors. It’s difficult.
Did you encounter obstacles along the way? If so, how did you overcome it (or work to overcome it)?
We encountered many obstacles! We go against the grain of the entire baby food and snack food industry, so while almost 100 percent of the people in the industry talk to us to believe that what we do is right and good, nothing we do fits into someone else’s box. . Manufacturing, distribution chain, shelf placement, marketing – full of unique challenges for us.
So, regardless, we have access to some of the most imaginative, creative, and entrepreneurial people in the industry and we couldn’t be more proud and excited about our team and our partners!
Column: Here Are Your Food Allergies Explained
Throughout your journey creating Mission MightyMe, was there a particular moment or memory that stood out to you?
There were many outstanding moments, but one was the first time we ever spoke in front of a large group about our work. We may be a year and a half into our work, but well before we have a product.
We competed in the Plywood Presents Big Ideas Competition for Social Good Companies in front of a panel of judges and over 1,000 people in the audience. We were very surprised and worried that people would think we were crazy. But I remember that if telling our story in front of those people helps one person to prevent food allergies in his child, then it is worth it.
Our mission is to help raise all children one day without the risk and burden of food.
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Personally, it showed me a deeper and deeper understanding of both the mission and the role of an entrepreneur that I had never seen before. I have great respect for entrepreneurs, anyone who starts something from scratch, and is using business as a force for good.
It was also the first time I worked with my wife, Kathryn, and I was with her in the lake and saw that her work was unbelievable. It increased my respect for him and it was very good for us.
We also hope that this trip will encourage our children to follow their own ideas, to be willing to take risks if they believe in something, and to try to make a difference.
Well, first of all, it means I’m lucky. The numbers and possibilities are almost overwhelming. So, for me, it is impossible to think that I have found it. It is like a task placed on me, for whatever reason, and the question is whether I will use it and all the events of my life behind me and in front of me as a force for good. I don’t mean it in a sad way, like all of us will be martyrs for good, but it is an opportunity that I hope to have a proud mind one day. I just want to leave everything better than I found it.
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Well, the scholarship itself helped me go to a school that I thought would be a good fit for me. But perhaps more importantly in the long run, it helped build the confidence that, even though I grew up in a small town, I could compete at the next level.
They are the people. I’m inspired by what everyone is doing – from bright-eyed high school students heading off to college to alumni from some of the inaugural Scholar classes. There is hope and optimism that spreads (and spreads) among everyone. I was just inspired by it all. It is part of the leadership team’s vision to make the Coca-Cola Scholars Program comprehensive.
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