With an eye on the food allergy community as a unique group of consumers since 2008, we're on a quest to find and share ways to continue enjoying the good things in life allergen-free.

09 June 2014

Food Treats at School and the Never-ending Story

photo from chow.com
This post is probably more of a vent than anything else, about food being served to students by well-intentioned parents at school. Almost every single event parents are invited to at school somehow ends up involving food. Have you seen the parents at school? Do they look like they are in need of a meal? Most of them look quite well-fed. Some are a bit...shall we say, portly! Surely they can attend an event for an hour or less at school for their child without eating!

And then these well-meaning parents simply must..they have to serve a cold treat to the children on the annual field day. We can't just have the kids drink the drink--be it water or an energy drink--from home. We have to feed them a sugary sweet frozen treat. Now don't get me wrong! I love dessert and treats as much as the next person, but with all the food related health conditions today, you'd think the PTO could forego food, no matter how few the calories, just once! If the event is about good sportsmanship, can it not be about inclusion as well? Do we have to bring food into the picture so now notes must be sent home asking permission for a child to eat the PTO-provided food? And what child doesn't want to just fit in and be like the other kids, and eat the PTO-provided snack that all the other kids eat?

We have to trust that the PTO won't have a last minute substitute treat, that there isn't some mistake, that our school won't have a creepy aide or parent trying to feed something to the children that isn't safe for them (like dog treats, did you see that story?!) One wonderful thing about children moving on to middle school and higher grades is that these enthusiastic PTO parents fade away. Not only do middle schoolers not want their parents at school, they don't want them anywhere near school! And just like that, the constant wave of dog and pony shows for parents--with their table of snacks--is gone. Then, new worries begin--the worry about what your child eats at school subsides some, and you worry more about what he or she is eating when out with friends.

What's a parent to do? Educate your child. Start as early as possible. Arm your child with information about his or her allergies, the risks involved, and how to keep him or herself safe, because when it comes down to it, it's up to your child to take care of himself. When it comes to managing food allergies, good intentions are lovely, but don't have much value without food allergy knowledge and vigilance.

I just had to get that off my chest. I guess I feel better now! I am not saying one should live in fear. I say live in knowledge, for in the words of Kofi Annan: "Knowledge is power. Information is liberating. Education is the premise of progress, in every society, in every family."

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