GSU Alumni Spotlight- Leneille Moon
Throughout the year many schools, churches, families and other groups
host events that involve the serving of food and beverages. For
children with food allergies these events can be bittersweet because
although they can participate they do have to be careful about what
foods are being served. Georgia State alumna Leneille Moon, ’08, author
of the children’s book Patty’s Secret, knows first-hand about these
challenges. The mother of a toddler who has severe multiple food
allergies, she wrote this book in hopes of raising awareness about the
food allergies and the challenges they pose. She spoke with Georgia
State’s Dave Cohen.
DC: Obviously the subject if food allergies is something that is of
concern to you. What prompted you to write a children’s book about the
LM: Well, I had a very normal pregnancy, my first pregnancy, and
delivered a beautiful baby boy in 2010. In the early part of 2011, when
he was five months old, I was just beginning the steps of letting him
taste different foods. One time, after I let him taste some mashed
potatoes, I took a short drive to pick up my husband from work and when I
got him out of the car he actually had an allergic reaction. I did not
know that’s what it was. I thought it was a bee sting or a wasp sting
because he was very swollen. His tongue had actually swollen up. We took
him to the hospital and they said that if we had gotten there fifteen
minutes later that he would have lost oxygen to his brain and died. At
that point we learned that he had food allergies and that we would need
to learn all about them and manage them. As my son got older I wanted to
show him different things about food allergies just so he will know
that he has food allergies and I couldn’t find any food allergy
children’s books in the local library or any book stores. They had books
on autism and every other special need but as far as food intolerance
or allergies there were none. So, I decided to write one. I wanted to
write the book to help children, even if they did not have a food
allergy, learn about food allergies so that they can help keep each
DC: The topic of food allergies has come into the forefront in recent
years with news about peanut allergies and gluten but it’s not a
subject that has the kind of awareness that it needs?
LM: Right, food allergies have been around for a very long time and
actually in the south and certain parts of the country they only think
its peanuts. The gluten-free thing has just taken off because it’s more
of like a celebrity-type of thing, “Oh, I’m gluten-free,” but it’s not
like I can’t eat gluten. It’s when I eat it, it makes me sick. With food
allergies, when I eat the item in particular I can die. It is somewhat
of a taboo topic because people don’t want to think about children and
death in that sense and they don’t want to scare children.
DC: You graduated from Georgia State in 2008. How did your experience
here help to get you to where you are today, writing books?
LM: I selected Georgia State after look for a school that was really
good in Journalism. At that point in my life I wanted to be a television
news anchor so I selected Georgia State and I made the best choice
ever. It’s a really good school and it has a really great location.
You’re in the heart of the scene of Atlanta and I was able to meet some
really great people along the way. During my time at Georgia State I
went to school every summer because I wanted to make sure I graduated in
four years. I majored in journalism and my concentration was in public
relations and I selected my minor in hospitality administration because I
wanted to get the certificate for meeting and event planning. Event
planning was my second passion after writing. Post GSU, a lot of my
alumni friends and I still keep in contact with each other. I like to
see that many people are entrepreneurs, they’re movers and shakers in
the Atlanta area and I’m really glad I went to school there because I
was able to meet so many great people.
DC: Were there any classes or professors that you remember that really made an impact on you while you were here?
LM: I had a few professors that were really nice and kind, especially
in the journalism department but, actually Debbie Robbe in the
hospitality department; she was the best person ever. I mean, these
people in the hospitality department really love what they do. They love
events, trade shows. We learned everything about hospitality
administration industry. They have people come in from country clubs,
hotels, restaurants, the managers and directors; they come in and speak
with you. They have a special job hotline that helps you get work.
That’s what I really loved about that program.
DC: Now that your first book has been published, do you see publishing any more books in your future?
LM: Yes, I want to write two more books this year if I can. My second
book is going to be a healthy family cookbook because after finding out
my son had food allergies we actually started reading labels a lot. So
now I am like a label detective and when I read them, if there’s
anything I can’t understand on it I (we) don’t eat it. We stopped eating
many processed foods because we were tired of calling the companies
trying to find out if it was made on the same line as a peanut or egg
product. We started making all our meals with only whole foods meaning a
plant based diet. I would then like to write a book about when a child
travels on an airplane because a lot of airlines serve peanuts or peanut
products and that is a problem because the air circulates so it’s like
circulating the allergen in the air a thousand times and that’s really
bad. Hopefully, one day, the airlines will stop serving peanut products.
Patty’s Secret is a self-published book available online at Amazon.com
You can also learn more about this book by visiting online at: Lmoonbooks.wix.com/pattyssecret