The Food Allergy Center at MassGeneral for Children is excited to be continuing the Food Allergy Buddies Program during the 2021-2022 year! This mentorship program fosters a supportive community by grouping high-school-age mentors (Bigs) with elementary-school-age (Littles) and middle-school-age children (Middles) who have food allergies.

Program Goals

The mission of the Food Allergy Buddies Program is to build a positive and supportive community for children, teens and their families, promote self-efficacy, support quality of life, and reinforce self-respect and safety.

Program Details

Throughout 2021-2022, there will be four group-based activities for participants and their families. The program will cover all expenses. Activities will be either virtual or located in and around Boston to ensure that all participants can attend, regardless of transportation method. A private Facebook group will be used to connect all willing participants, including those who may not be able to attend all events.

Check out our September 2021 event in Auburndale Park:

T-shirt decorating is underway!

Dr. Mike leads a parent session in the park!

How to Join

Apply to be a Big Buddy!

Apply to be a Little Buddy!

Big Buddies will need to ask someone to fill in a character reference form.

Questions? Want to learn more about the program? Please email us at foodallergybuddies@mgh.harvard.edu.

In the News

Article: Buddying Up to Help Kids Manage Food Allergies

Article: Food Allergy Buddies brings families together for allergy-friendly fun

Meet the Team

Michael Pistiner, MD

Dr. Michael Pistiner, Pediatric Allergist

Dr. Mike is the Director of Food Allergy Advocacy, Education and Prevention at MassGeneral Hospital for Children, Food Allergy Center. He is the father of an 18 year old with food allergies and actively engaged in patient, family and community food allergy education and advocacy. He has particular interest in the impact of mentorship and community on school age children with food allergy.


 Maria Theodorakakis, MD

Dr. Maria Theodorakakis, Pediatric Psychologist

Dr. Maria is a pediatric psychologist in the Department of Psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital. She specializes in supporting youth and families managing chronic medical conditions, including food allergies. She is also involved with research focused on addressing systemic inequality by increasing access to holistic support for all youth. Dr. Maria joined the Buddies program in 2018 and is thrilled to be part of such a fantastic community!


Lydia Pan

Lydia Pan

Lydia is the Program Coordinator for the Food Allergy Buddies program and concurrently works on food allergy clinical research studies with Dr. Pistiner. She recently joined the team after her graduation from Harvard University in 2021, where she studied Chemical and Physical Biology. She loves working with kids and hopes to become a pediatrician in the future. Lydia is excited to be part of the Buddies community!


Julian Balkcom

Julian Balkcom

Julian is in his second year on the Buddies team after previously being a Big. After graduating from Tufts University this past May, he is currently a first-year master’s student at Tufts’ Eliot-Pearson Department of Child Study & Human Development. He hopes to one day work in the field of clinical child psychology, focusing on working with children with chronic illnesses such as food allergies. Julian’s hobbies include singing with his Tufts a cappella group and playing Pokémon! Julian has a long list of food allergies – peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, and most legumes – which he has managed his whole life, and he is excited and grateful to be part of this program that empowers people just like him!


Conor Brockway

Conor Brockway

Conor originally worked with Dr. Pistiner to help launch the Buddies Program in 2018 and rejoined the group earlier this year. He graduated from Tufts University in 2020 and currently works as a Clinical Research Assistant at Boston Children’s Hospital. He has food allergies to peanuts and tree nuts, and hopes to one day become an allergist! In his free time, he enjoys rooting for all New England sports teams, especially the Red Sox, and reading.

Special Thanks

Special thanks to the Food Allergy Buddies Parent Advisory Committee for their energy, effort, and time!

Thank you to our donors:

  • DBV Technologies
  • Food Allergy Buddies Family Donors 
  • Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America

Your generosity helps us to continue to provide programming for our food allergy community!