Back To School Allergy Awareness Tips

By Rachel Sircy

education-662458_1280It’s that time of year again, when kids and teachers across the state are heading back to school. For an increasing number of parents, the school year is a time when they worry about their child’s health and safety. Our schools are attempting to become safer places by installing metal detectors and having police officers on campus, but what about those kids for whom the danger is ever-present and lurking in the lunchroom?

For those of us with food intolerances, sensitivities and allergies, staying healthy and safe is a constant battle. But there are things that we can do to keep our kids (and let’s not forget those teachers and school staff who may have allergies also!) from coming into contact with the wrong foods. If your child or someone you know has a food allergy which may be flared up at school, DON’T BE PASSIVE! There are steps you can take to help protect your child and everyone at their school.

  1. Contact the school and let them know ahead of time who your child is and what kind of food allergy they have. Be prepared to provide a doctor’s note. Let the school know how sensitive your child is to their allergen and then offer advice on how to control the situation at school. Don’t forget to provide the school with your child’s emergency medications, if they take any.
  2. While you on the phone with the school, see if they would be willing to promote food allergy awareness through programs like Be a PAL. There are tons of resources to help kids understand what food allergies are and how to help and protect their friends, from pamphlets and worksheets to coloring pages for the littlest learners. They are great classroom resources! Visit: https://www.foodallergy.org/education-awareness/be-a-pal
  3. If you and your child don’t have a food allergy, but find out that someone in his or her class does, then try to be mindful when providing snacks for your child and especially when providing treats for the class. Take a few minutes to learn about the allergy and how you can avoid it. Peanuts and nut allergies are extremely common and there are very simple methods for avoiding exposing nut allergy sufferers to their allergens. There are plenty of alternatives to nut butters on the market, including soy butter and sunflower seed butter (Tastewise, I prefer the sunflower seed butter. Enjoy Life Foods has a ton of products, including individually wrapped snack bars made from sunflower seed butter, which I can personally say are quite tasty. I would guarantee your kid won’t know the difference.)
  4. Remember, school time isn’t the only time that we need to be mindful of allergy sufferers. Any school function could be a place of exposure. So be sure to pack allergy-friendly snacks and treats for any of your child’s after-school programs, including sports practices and games, dance lessons and recitals, etc.

Those of us who may only have celiac disease and not food allergies are still aware of how hard it can be to feel comfortable and safe in a world filled with stuff we shouldn’t eat. So, let’s be even more careful to stand up for our allergy-suffering friends!  Happy back to school!

Finally! Something New For The Lunch Box

By: Elizabeth Webber Akre

I struggle with the lunch box dilemma every week.  My child is a lot like me in that she must have variety.  I have friends who talk about how their kids eat the same lunch day after day, but I could never pull that off with the Vivver.  She can be really gung-ho about a certain food, but if you overdo it, she’ll turn off real quick.  So each week, I cruise the grocery store looking for inspiration, new ideas, something, anything. One thing we don’t do is the stuff I always wanted as a kid…Little Debbies, Doritos, cookies.  Yep, I’m one of those moms who tries to keep my baby away from processed food in a bag.

I was recently asked to do a cooking lesson for Vivi’s Girl Scout troop.  The group consists of Daisies (Kindergarten-1st grade), Brownies (2nd & 3rd) and Juniors. The Girl Scout guide suggests teaching healthy snacks, but I thought to myself “Snacks?  That’s not exactly cooking, now is it?”  So, I put some thought into what snacky ideas could actually teach some cooking skills and still be age appropriate.  I’ll be blogging more about this once I get the photos (yep, I asked a friend to be my photographer).  It was a great time with all those little girls in the kitchen! But one thing I wanted to go ahead and share now were the Mini-Cheeseburger Pies.

Cheeseburger Pies

This is a recipe by Betty Crocker…I did not make it up.  I made it with the Girl Scouts and all of them loved it- including my little one.  Then, I had a light bulb moment and realized this would taste just as good at room temperature, so it’s a lunch box candidate!  So, last night I made another batch. As usual with me, I tweaked it a tad.  For instance, I used a little less than 1 lb of meat, used a little bit more cheddar, a little more Worchestershire (this gives it a great little kick of flavor), and I sauteed a pretty good portion of onion.  The result was a 10.  I ate two of them right out of the oven!  This morning, I heated a couple in the microwave then wrapped in foil, hoping that would keep them a bit warm for Vivi’s lunch.  I can’t wait to get her review after school today.  Now, I will admit that this isn’t the most low fat recipe, but since my child is extremely active and burns it up with karate, ballet, basketball, I don’t worry so much about that.  Of course, using turkey will be just fine, I’m sure, so that’s one way to lighten the fat.  I think this recipe also lends itself to sneaking in other vegetables that won’t really interfere with the “cheeseburger” nature of the pies. If you want to try it out on your kids, here is the recipe. If you try a new twist to the recipe, I’d love to hear about it below!