Peanuts. Tree nuts. Eggs. Wheat. Soy. Corn. Milk. Fish.
The top 8 food allergies are also some of the most common foods served in schools today, especially in prepared hot lunches and classroom parties. If you have a child who has food allergies, you are well versed in dealing with the day to day drama that food allergies add to your life.
But if you aren't familiar with food allergies and their very real presence in the lives of those affected, you may be more offended at the inconvenience it might cost you to have to think about this when you plan lunches or parties for your student. Never fear! With a little bit of education and a little bit of pre planning, the very scary reality of food allergies can be lessened and you can relax.
If you've been advised to steer clear of peanut butter and related nuts, it can be challenging to find a lunch that your child will eat. Instead of focusing on the inconvenience of discovering a food that your child will happily pack, why not take the time before school begins to try to list several acceptable choices. Some of my children's most favorite lunches are those that are atypical - we grill chicken legs (wrap them in foil before tossing on the grill to keep it tidy!) and pack cold pasta salad. We use cupcake liners to section off a larger container - a make your own bento box - and fill it with crackers, carrots, grapes and cubes of cheese. Wax paper makes a fantastic wrap for sandwiches. Teach your child to open the wax paper without ripping it, and using it as a place mat. The bonus? There will be no contamination of the table and also no contamination of your child's sandwich.
If you have to plan a classroom party, take a minute to call the parents of those who have food allergies. Often, you will find that those parents are eager to help provide foods that are safe for their children to eat and can point you in the direction of safe offerings. In addition to partyfoods, keep in mind that many craft choices can include foods, so be sure to plan accordingly.
If you have to deal with food allergies at school, you are not alone. Know that no one is trying to make your life difficult. There are many ways to work together and help to keep everyone safe.
Do you deal with a food allergy in your life? Have you ever had to send your child to school with a food allergy? Has another student in your child's class had a food allergy?