The Society of Food Sympathizers started out as a Graphic Design Master’s Thesis project in the Fall of 2012. Krista Van Guilder, the creator, was enrolled in the graduate program at the New England School of Art and Design at Suffolk University and started the first of a 3‐semester thesis project by researching dietary restrictions. Diagnosed with Celiac Disease in the Fall of 2009—and living with a dairy allergy for the first 12 years of her life—she had first‐hand knowledge of what it was like to live with a dietary restriction, or food sensitivity, which she later renamed it.
She was most interested in the interactions that people had with each other concerning food sensitivities and how these interactions helped to shape one’s personal identity, both in a positive and negative way. After interviewing several people who all had food sensitivities of varying sorts, she realized we all had quite a bit in common and that all of us had heard or felt the same things regarding our food limitations—sometimes positive, but often‐times negative.
All of the research and the conversations conducted led to the idea for the Society of Food Sympathizers (SOFS.) Initially viewed as a way for food establishments to positively interact with food sensitive customers, the concept grew to be much bigger than that. It touched upon a life style, and helped to shape our identities. SOFS has evolved to encompass our connections to each other as well as promoting an inclusive community. The SOFS manifesto serves as a reminder that we are not alone, we do have allies, and that we all belong—no matter our food sensitivity.