As a parent of foodies with allergies and being a foodie with allergies, this one hits home deep. Why so important? My child is lactose intolerant and gluten allergy plus suspected additive allergies found in some meats (I have this and it’s dangerous). We have dealt with multiple school systems thanks to our many moves and it’s hard! We fortunate that we can provide food and able to help those with hardship. How do we deal with food allergens and school? It’s not easy but it is possible.
Food Allergens and School
- Know your allergens and it’s relations. Like gluten-free doesn’t mean just no wheat- no barley, rye, or triticale either.
- Advocate with anyone and don’t give a shit if you’re bugging them. You’re your child’s food and allergy warrior.
- It may be a good idea to send a letter to your child’s teacher AND the school lunch manager. Communication isn’t always shared. Spell out your child’s allergies and what foods this may contain. Offer your contact info for questions.
- If your child eats at school, get the proper documentation as almost always schools require a doctor’s note. Do monitor the food menu. It sucks but necessary.
- Teach your child about their allergies and practice speaking up. My oldest by three could tell her teachers what she could and couldn’t eat. She refused to eat it and I backed her up. As they grow older they can monitor the food menu. My three-year-old is now a middle schooler. She handles her food and watches at school for days when she can eat at school. It’s not foolproof. Do check in with your child and monitor symptoms.
- Backing lunch? Read food labels if you send lunch and watch out for toxic food additives and chemicals in packages that could make your child’s allergies worse.
- Keep a list of what packaged items are safe for your child for easy reference. Plus keep pins on board and notes on recipe or meal ideas to simplify your life.
- Send a lunch with forks, napkins- if you can. It helps prevent cross-contamination.
- Know when parties are happening and keep an open line with teachers. It helps to offer a class shareable that your child and the whole class can eat.
- Keep treat options in the freezer for your child for last-minute school celebrations. Trust me it helps a lot!!
Back to school while dealing with food allergens can be stressful. It doesn’t have to be. Be your child’s advocate and teach them to advocate for themselves.
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