Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Back-to-School with Food Allergies

Today's the day!
The kids have gone back to school.

And now is a great time to start thinking about how to handle food allergies at your child's school. Whether you're planning classroom parties or thinking about sending birthday treats this year - if there is a child with food allergies in your child's classroom it's a good idea to do some research so you can include all the kids.

If you're looking for a safe snack option for the entire classroom I suggest bookmarking the Safe Snack Guide. This guide is a catalog of common snacks including pretzels, chips, popcorn, candy, cookies, crackers, and more. It is updated each month and will provide users with information about which snacks are free of peanuts, tree nuts, and eggs.

This is a great tool for schools, sports teams, PTAs, and more.

If you are a parent with a child who has food allergies, FARE has published an updated Emergency Action Plan for parents to "provide a plan of action and authorize others to administer medications should their child suffer an allergic reaction." The form is filled out by parents and the child's doctor and can be given to teachers, staff, coaches, scout troop leader, daycare, and more.

If you're a teacher and you have students with food allergies, you can print out signs to hang in your classroom so that the other students and/or parents are aware of the food allergies.

If you are part of the school's PTO/PTA ask for input from the parents of kids with food allergies - we are always willing to help out when it comes to planning safe and fun events where NO child is excluded because of food. 

Keeping kids with food allergies safe starts at home with the parents but when our kids are at school we rely on the faculty, staff, and even other students to do everything they can to keep our children safe. It really does take a village to keep our kids safe and allergy-free.

So if your child comes home this week or next and says they have a classmate with food allergies, don't bemoan the fact that PB&Js aren't allowed at lunch or that you can't send in homemade or store-bought cupcakes for little Timmy's birthday.

Instead, look at this as a teaching and learning experience for you and your child. Reach out to the parent of the child with food allergies and see what IS safe for snacks and treats. Ask what you can do to help plan classroom parties. Teach your child what food allergies are and how they can help keep their friend safe. Check the Safe Snack Guide for ideas on treats that are safe for kids with peanut, tree nut, and/or egg allergies.

And remember - exclude the food NOT the child.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Middle School and Food Allergies

The day is almost here - Olivia starts middle school tomorrow.
Sixth grade.
Someone quick! Hold me.

I'm feeling a bit anxious about this new adventure. And I'm sure Olivia is a bit anxious too. That comes with the territory of moving to a new school with 250 kids in the sixth grade (when you're used to just 58 kids in your grade since kindergarten).

Factor in food allergies and you're playing a whole new ball game.

At Olivia's old school they knew about her food allergies (they didn't always handle them very well, but it was somewhat easy to navigate). Now, we're at a new school with a lot more kids which means a lot more chances for something to happen.

And yes, this is how my brain works. I'm ALWAYS thinking about "what if?"

Olivia knows what she can and can't eat but her teachers don't. And she's going to have many different teachers throughout the day - probably at least six.

Now, I know that this school has been good about dealing with food allergies in the past so we have that going for us. And, Olivia will be carrying her EpiPens with her at all times (which is new for her - in elementary school they were locked in the school office...which is a whole different post).

Last week we dropped off her medicine form in the office and the secretary asked if she could share the information with all of Olivia's teachers. Of course, I said yes. As we left the office I heard her tell one of the school counselor's about Olivia's allergies .. a good sign.

About two hours later the phone rang at home and it was Olivia's homeroom teacher - calling to ask me about Olivia's allergies! This was a VERY good sign. He wanted to know how severe the peanut allergies were - if kids could still eat peanut butter around her. And he wanted to know what kind of candy was safe. I ended the call by encouraging him to always call me with questions.

That is exactly the kind of support kids with food allergies need from their teachers, classmates, and parents of classmates. Always ask questions. Don't ever assume something is safe. And always ALWAYS exclude the food not the child.

Happy back-to-school! Here's to a great school year.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Happy Friday!

Seriously you guys?
It's August 14 and I'm such a blogging slacker.

This week has been all about back-to-school MADNESS (more on school and food allergies in an upcoming post)!

But today I just have to share some super exciting news!

Today you need to check out the YoDish Blog because yours truly is a guest blogger!

What's YoDish, you ask? Well, it's a super cool new app for your phone that gives you all the details you're looking for about restaurants in your area. It's a great new tool to look up and even share your food allergy, gluten free, vegetarian, and vegan dining successes (and even the failures).

I was playing around with the app recently and when I looked up Five Guys it gave me the waring "peanuts everywhere!" ... because I have my profile set at watching for peanuts, tree nuts, and sesame seeds.

Seriously, you need to check out this app! (No one asked me to talk about the app, I'm simply sharing it because it is that cool).

Happy weekend everyone!