School has been in session for us since Tuesday and so far, so good. My daughter has the option of coming home for the lunch hour (the first time we've ever been in a district that offers this) so I think I may be in for an easier time of it this year. She did stay on Thursday, and things went fine. Still, at this point we're still adjusting to the new routine, which means we'll have some tweaking to do at some point.
Which brings me "Safe Snacks" lists. This is the first year I have not been asked for one of these by the teacher. (Yahoo! Trumpet fanfare.) That's because our new school discourages edible treats in the classroom. Still, there will be other instances when I'm asked for one of these (Girl Scouts, play dates, etc.) and I know I have to be prepared. I also know that many of you are struggling to compile these right now.
Since we're all dealing with different food allergies, I can't offer a "one size fits all" safe snack list, so I won't attempt to do that here. I just really want to encourage everyone to very carefully read every label before putting down a specific food.Even if you've used it before, the label may have changed recently.
To wit: Last year, I had Jay's brand OkeDoke bagged popcorn on our "nut-free" list, only to discover that it got a new allergy label halfway through the school year. According to the new label, it "may contain hazelnuts and brazil nuts" among several other allergens. This may be a case of "list the top 8, everything will be great!" approach that seems to be the norm right now with many food manufacturers. The September 16th FDA hearing will have a lot of bearing on these labels, so stay tuned. In the meantime, make a simple list and advise all list recepients that there could be changes.
But the easiest thing of all is: no edible treats at school! Why do the kids need to constantly be celebrating with sugary treats? For one thing, childhood obesity and juvenile diabetes are both on the rise. I would think most parents would be happy not to have their kids exposed to more cake, cookies and candy while at school. If the parents you know are grumbling that they can't bring treats to school, put it to them like that. You never know--they may see it as a positive when presented in that light.
Also, for the first time ever, my daughter has another child in her class with peanut/tree nut allergies. (She's always been the only one in her actual classroom, though not the grade level.) This student also has soy allergies in addition to nut allergies. So I may not be the "baking mom" this year after all. Do any of you dealing with soy allergies have advice on treats for me? I'd love to help out as I always have, but need to keep it safe.
Which brings me to another point: Parents, please don't allow non-allergic families to provide food or treats to your classroom. Whatever you have to do (and you can be diplomatic here) make sure YOU are the "Treats Mom" or "Treats Dad." It is nearly impossible to explain to someone else how to handle the food issue, so don't give yourself or the other parents more gray hairs and stress. You bring the food--every time. I've found this to be the best way.
If anyone has ideas that I haven't covered here, please let us know. Hope everyone who's started school has had a good start! For those who haven't started yet, good luck!