As the school year approaches, many parents are beginning to wonder what this year will bring. With the COVID-19 pandemic taking over all our lives, school will undoubtedly be different. However, for parents of children with food allergies, the stress is tenfold. With recipes changing and school lunches being less prevalent, parents are beginning to worry about sending their child to class. Will common food allergens become a bigger issue with home lunches becoming increasingly more popular? How can parents best prepare themselves and their children for the changes in the upcoming school year?
We know that it can feel helpless but reaching out to you child’s school is super important. Teachers aren’t mind readers and even the most helpful ones need to know that you need help. Pick up the phone and you may be pleasantly surprised. Work with your child’s school to come up with a plan that makes you and your child feel safe. Many schools have already become nut free zones, and countless classrooms have cut out tuna fish or hummus to keep their students safe. Most people are understanding, you just need to give them the chance to learn.
One of the most important tools that you can send your child to school with, is knowledge. Knowledge of their allergy, how to find it, how to avoid it and how to treat it. Obviously, your child’s teacher should be given a plan too, but teachers can’t be everywhere all of the time. Your child’s allergy kit should have those essential items that would need in a worst case scenario. An EpiPen, Benadryl, alcohol wipes and hand sanitizer. Knowledge is power, and your child deserves the power to keep themselves safe.
Many parents will be happy to comply with your needs if you reach out to them. Before sending your child to school, take the time to reach out to the other parents in the class and make your issue clear. Explain what allergy your child has, and which foods need to be avoided. Remind parents that allergies are no joking matter and can be hiding in places they wouldn’t even expect. Ask them to read labels, to double check snack bags and to be overall vigilant about the food they send into school.
Your child can be their own advocate! As they take this next step in life, teach them how to stick up for their needs. Teach your child to remind the class about their allergies before a class party, or when to approach the teacher if they feel like someone is being insensitive. School is a great opportunity for your child to learn how to navigate the world with food allergies, while still under strict and careful supervision.
While we fully endorse teaching your child responsibility and allowing them an opportunity to learn about their allergy, make sure you have a backup kit put in place. Whether it be with the school nurse, the principal or with the teacher, this kit should be fully equipped with anything your child would need. Additionally, make sure that there is always an adult present who knows how to use an auto injector and recognize the sign of an allergic reaction. When it comes to allergies, there is no such thing as reacting too quickly.
It is never too early to spread allergy awareness. Use this opportunity to speak to your child’s class and educate their peers on food allergies. Make them an active part of keeping your child safe. It is important to approach this subject delicately, make it clear you’re trusting the children with this responsibility. Remember, that many children with food allergies experience social isolation, so try your best to be sensitive to this issue when speaking with the students.
One of the easiest ways to ensure that your child is safe, it to take an active role in their school life. For those parents that are able to, volunteering on school trips or offering to make a student’s birthday cake can be life changing. We spend so much time worrying about our children that sometimes we overlook the simple solutions. That said, it is important to provide a balance. Make sure you are looking out for your child without impeding on their life. And feel free to take control as long as you still let the teacher run the show.
Labeling issues have been a hot topic lately. With the FDA allowing companies to change their ingredients without updating their labels as a result of COVID19. For many food allergy families, this has become just one more thing to worry about. Now, as our kids are about to head back to school, these labeling issues become scarier. Having a plan for your child while in school can help you and your child feel safer about starting the new year.
During our recent visit to Israel, we really struggled to find food for our son who has anaphylactic level allergies to egg and sesame. We approached both restaurants and hotels and were told they were unable or unwilling to take responsibility for preparing his food.
After learning about Dr. Eliana on-line, we contacted her in the hopes that she could provide a ‘normal’ restaurant experience for our family.
Both she and Shani were meticulous in their preparations with the restaurants to ensure that our son had a wonderful and safe experience.
We truly appreciate their efforts to take care of our son, and to provide us with a lovely vacation experience.
T.M., Chicago, USA
We want to thank you from the bottom of our hearts for the amazing gift you have given us over this Pesach- the gift of having you with us!!!!
We have NEVER felt more comfortable, calm, and at ease than we did these past 10 days. Your warmth, professionalism, kindness, and care shown through in all that you did.
My children are so grateful that they were able to be with you this Pesach. You made sure that they were so well looked after and they felt so at ease and comfortable with you! You were so amazing and approachable to them! And they LOVED all the food you so amazingly prepared (supervised allergy-free food preparation, managed menus) for them!
It’s very difficult for us to trust people when it comes to our kids and allergies. You magically were able to take away ALL of our anxieties, and nervousness (and we don’t give that away so easily!!)
We can never fully thank you enough. We truly feel that you instantly became part of our family and we look forward to G-d willing being able to be with you and plan amazing trips with you many many many more times!!!!
Thank you and may Hashem bless you for the work you do. My son Jacob said your allergy card has been very helpful. I am so grateful- beyond words.
L.R., NY, NY
Thank you for delivering our allergy free baked goods to our hotel. We just tasted the focaccia and it was delicious!
All the best,
S.C., New Jersey
We can't thank you enough for assembling this top-notch team of specialists to work with our daughter while she is in Israel.
T.G., Philadelphia, PA
"Food Allergy Concierge assisted us with a very helpful, detailed customized allergy card in Hebrew. The Allergy card was extremely helpful for multiple allergies and allowed us to eat safely in several eateries and hotels. Highly recommended.”
G.A. Illinois USA