We all love parties at school, right? Nope, not all of us. As a parent of a child with food allergies, we must learn how to manage allergies at school parties whether we like it or not. It’s a source of great anxiety. Hey, we are NOT party poopers! Seriously, we’re not. We’re just worried about keeping our kid alive! Is there really a way to keep our allergic kids happy and safe when food is everywhere? What happens if you’re caught by a surprise celebration? Well, I’ve got 5 suggestions for you.
ALLERGIES IN CHILDREN
Sending a child with food allergies to school is no easy task. It’s difficult to hand over the reins to someone else. When a child has a nut allergy, dairy allergy, gluten intolerance, or any other allergy, there are so many potential scenarios for danger. It is a source of high anxiety for parents. So allergy safe snacks are a must.
Food allergies are on the rise and we don’t know why. According to FARE, researchers estimate 15 million people in the U. S. have food allergies. Affecting 1 in every 13 children under 18 years of age, there is roughly 2 children in every classroom with food allergies.
ALLERGIES AT SCHOOL PARTIES
In preschool and elementary school, class parties are big events that children look forward to. These parties occur about 5-10 times during the school year and are typically planned by the room parents.
It is true though, that most people, especially kids, look forward to parties. However, in preschool and elementary school, the ever-present food dilemma presents itself. There’s always some event coming up, whether it’s a birthday celebration or the next holiday party. There seems to be at least one party a month! With never-ending parties for Thanksgiving, Christmas, Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, 100 days of school, LOTS of birthdays, multi-cultural days, Chinese New Year, Diwali, Rosh Hashanah, and more that I can’t recall, we allergy parents can hardly keep up with all the potential food dangers.
And don’t forget about the pizza, popsicle, and ice cream parties for winning the Read-a-thon or Walkathon! The possibilities are endless. If you’d like to have more say in what happens at the parties, consider volunteering to be a room parent or help out in class.
FUN AND FOOD
Typically, there are two parts to the celebration: fun and food. Of course, the fun part is – well, fun. Crafts, games, and a general good time to be had for all. If we’re lucky, the school or the teacher has a policy of no food in celebrations. Then, yay! You’re all set! No nut allergies to worry about! No dairy allergies to worry about! No gluten allergies to worry about! Or any other allergy! You get the picture.
As much as we’d love for these parties to NOT include food, it is the norm to have an abundant amount of snacks. So you need to be prepared. There are usually two parts to the celebrations – the fun activity and the food. Yes, the food is what causes us allergy parents to worry! How can we keep our child safe? How do we make sure nobody feels left out?
5 OPTIONS for MANAGING ALLERGIES IN THE CLASSROOM
- Volunteer to be a room parent and be the party planner.
- Keep up a good rapport with the room parent so you can be in on the food planning.
- Volunteer to supply allergy safe food for the parties for the whole class.
- Volunteer to be a parent helper at the parties so you can be present to keep an eye on your child.
- Supply the teacher with alternative safe treats for your allergic child.
In an ideal world, everyone can eat everything served at the party. Make this happen by becoming friends with the room parents (if you’re not one) and start the open communication.
Instead of giving them a list of constraints on what foods your child CAN NOT eat, give them a detailed list of allergy safe snacks he CAN eat during the parties. Include all types of foods, such as fruit, veggies, snacks, savories, and treats.
Room parents and teachers can choose from your list when selecting snacks for the class and you are thus making their life easier. Even better, offer to bring the food and volunteer as a helping hand at the party. It’s a great way to join in on the fun and see your child in action.
GET THE DAIRY-FREE & NUT-FREE SNACK LIST I USED FOR MY KIDS
Doing this will take some time and effort, but it will be well worth it. With your list of allergy safe snacks, you’ll rest easier and your allergic child will be enjoying those class parties with everyone else at school in no time!
ALTERNATIVE ALLERGY SAFE TREATS FOR SCHOOL PARTIES
Cupcake to the rescue! Sometimes, with advance warning, you can give your child a safe cupcake to bring to school when you know that there will be a birthday celebration. However, a lot of the times, these food celebrations sneak up on us and we’re not prepared.
THE ONE SIMPLE TRICK
Supplying the teacher with some shelf stable fun treats for your allergic child will keep him happy whenever the occasion arises. Keep a safe snack box in the classroom and stock it throughout the year. The teacher can be the gate keeper.
To keep it special and fun, try to give treats that are not commonly available at home. Then, your child will be excited to get that treat. Do make sure that she’s eaten it before with you and recognizes it as a safe treat.
Keep in mind that every child and every family is different and has varying levels of risk they’re willing to take. Whether it’s “Made in a nut and tree nut facility, “May contain peanut or tree nuts”, “Made in a facility or plant…”, “Processed on shared equipment…”, etc. Do what works for your family. There is no one right answer for everybody.
ALLERGY SAFE TREATS LISTED BELOW
Remember to check snacksafely.com for the latest allergy information on snack items.
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-> NUT FREE, DAIRY FREE
- Oreo snack pack – Original, Double Stuff
- Oreo Cookie Sticks ‘N Creme Dip – 6 in a box (My kids go CRAZY over these!)
- Lorna Doone shortbread cookies
- Annie’s Bunny Grahams
- Enjoy Life cookies
- Enjoy Life candy bars
- Fruit snacks
- Marshmallows – Dandies brand is vegan
- Laffy Taffy
- Dum Dums lollipops
- Red vines
- Fruit roll ups
- Pop Tarts – some are dairy free like Brown Sugar Cinnamon
- Made Good bars
- Popcorn – Olive oil, Kettle
- Kettle corn – Individual bags from Trader Joe’s.
-> NUT FREE, CONTAINS DAIRY
- Andes Chocolate Mints
- Vermont Nut Free chocolates
- Tootsie Rolls
- Tootsie Pops
- Goldfish crackers
- Cheez-It crackers
- Pirates Booty
- Popcorn – butter
- Rice Krispies treats
- Hostess Ding Dongs and Zingers from plant # 24000 **
**(100% peanut and tree nut free plant) To find the plant number, look below the “best by” date – there will be a letter, followed by some numbers. The 5th number is the beginning of the plant number.
Anything you’d add to this list? Want to share an idea? Leave a comment down below!
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