Food allergy lessons learned better: class parties and field trips

I received plenty of feedback after my previous post on the food allergy safety lessons I learned following my daughter’s field trip and class party.  Since not all the feedback was posted in the comments section, for our readers’ edification and my own I wanted to write a few of the better points people made.

Linda Coss, who runs Food Allergy Books, added: “For school situations, I would add that it is always good to have a small supply of safe, non-perishable snacks available in the classroom.  They should be labeled as being only for your child, and your child should know that these are safe.”

Kelley J.P. Lindberg, who blogs at Food Allergy Feast, wrote:  “My son’s in sixth grade, and here’s another lesson learned… no matter how prepared you are, how many times you’ve explained, or how many people you’ve talked to, something can always happen that will surprise you. Each year has gotten easier, and my son goes to a school that is REALLY supportive, but unexpected food issues always manage to happen every year anyway. Brace yourself for it, educate your child, and know you’ve done the best you can. Then take a deep breath and do it all again.”

In a subsequent conversation Amy Jones Anichini, CEO and Founder of Egg-Free Epicurean, added:

For field trips

  • NEVER add others’ food to the same backpack containing a food allergic person’s food, even if it has separate compartments.  Instead, bring along a supply of plastic grocery store bags and hand them out to children whose own bags fall apart
  • At snack and mealtime, watch the children like a hawk, noting what they’re eating and likely exposure issues
  • Bring along a large supply of antibacterial sanitary wipes and make the children wipe their hands well after eating

For class parties

  • Regardless of whether it’s a party, trip, play date, or just running a bunch of errands:  ALWAYS bring (or have the child bring) more safe snacks than you plan on the child consuming.  Expect delays, accidents, and other SNAFUs and plan accordingly.  A hungry child with food allergies is a potential danger to himself.

The final point is one I have previously written about specifically when traveling, but it really applies in everyday life, regardless of whether an airplane is involved.

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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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