Food allergy lesson learned: Best intentions at parties can lead to chaos

After having created a series of posts and a video regarding food allergy fun on Halloween, and created a well-received music video on food allergy awareness over the holidays, you’d think we had all our bases covered.  But the end of last week was a bit of a trial, over three different events.

Thursday:  Field Trip
I chaperoned a group of second graders to Legoland for them to learn about gears and pulleys.  Really.  As the adult among four second grade girls, I was told I would NOT be expected to carry any of the children’s lunches, but could offer to do so if I so wished.  We started out with all carrying their own lunch.  It was inevitable:  a few of the girls’ paper lunch bags began to tear and fall apart.  One by one I offered to carry them in my backpack, which fortunately held different compartments so I could keep my food allergic daughter’s items separate from the others.  Lesson learned: Always carry some way to keep the allergic person’s food separate.

Friday:  Classroom Holiday Party
Prior to starting the bakery, Amy had typically been more frequently involved in our children’s classrooms, whether as a room mom or volunteer.  Since I had pulled field trip duty the day before, Amy wanted to be present for the classroom party. After taking care of a few things at the bakery, she was a few minutes late. But a few minutes was all the time it took for chaos to ensue.

The party volunteers had asked us which food items/brands would be safe for our daughter and we told them. So they had acceptable foods available. But they didn’t know that our daughter is disciplined NEVER to eat food given to her from any adult other than her parents. She refused to take any food, and, knowing she was hungry, they felt guilty. What made it worse was they kept encouraging her to eat, making her feel pressured to eat food that she wasn’t sure was safe. So by the time Amy walked in, maybe 10 minutes after the party had started, a few grown ups were out of sorts because our daughter had refused to take any food. Our biggest mistake was not sending her off to school with several snacks, because we had counted on arriving at the party on time.  Lesson learned: Always carry safe snacks!

Saturday: Birthday Party
Our second grader hosted several friends for a birthday party. They were the first to try Egg-Free Epicurean cupcakes, which we plan to make available to local customers soon. No challenges here, as we had planned and executed appropriately.  Lesson learned: Control the agenda.

Keep your food allergic child well fed and well stocked with safe options.

Happy Holidays!

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About Tom

Tom Anichini owns Egg-Free Epicurean along with his wife, Amy Jones Anichini, who founded the business in 2009. Tom is an actuary and an investment professional. He holds an MBA in Finance from the Chicago Booth School of Business and a BS in Actuarial Science from the University of Illinois. He is also a CFA charter holder and an Associate of the Society of Actuaries. He lives in San Diego with his wife and two daughters.
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