Food Allergy Safe school | Innovation Academy LV
A few helpful tips to manage Thanksgiving when your child has severe food allergies
Did you know that Innovation Academy is the ONLY Las Vegas elementary school that is a 100% food allergy safe school? We believe that a child with a severe food allergy shouldn’t have to be segregated and singled-out from the rest of their school for their safety. Instead, we create a food-safe environment with high quality catered meals that every student can enjoy. Innovation Academy also educates our students about food allergies and the very real danger they can present, which helps provide an environment of understanding, empathy, and acceptance.
Holidays can be a stressful and difficult time for families with severe food allergies, but there are some simple steps you can take to make sure your family still has fun, while staying food allergy safe. Of course, every family’s needs are different, but maybe some of these tips will be helpful to you. Tips courtesy “Kids with Food Allergies“, a division of the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America.
- Wash hands before and after eating or handling food.
- Prevent cross-contamination in preparation and serving.
- Read the labels of all food ingredients.
- Prepare and cook safe meals first. Seal them, and set aside. Then make unsafe foods.
- Keep unsafe foods away from safe foods when preparing, serving, and storing.
- Use separate serving utensils for each dish. Be careful not to mix them up.
- Wash all prep areas and eating areas with a paper towel and commercial cleaner. (Sponges and rags can be a source of allergens.)
- Try to keep food isolated to one area of the home and clean up thoroughly after the meal.
- Make a plate for your child before the meal is served to avoid cross contact.
- Depending on your child’s age, you may want him/her seated close to you during the meal. Ensure that those eating nearby will be careful not to accidentally spill or share unsafe foods.
- Keep unsafe foods out of reach of young children with allergies.
- If food will be served and eaten throughout the house, bring packages of wipes to keep near the food and encourage everyone to wipe hands after eating, though encouraging them to use soap and water is the best. Walk around periodically to dispose of any uneaten food or dirty plates and napkins.
When going to someone’s house for Thanksgiving:
- Offer to work with the host to create a safe menu. Often a food can be made safe simply by adjusting the recipe. Offer to prepare the food with the host and to help with label reading and preventing cross-contamination.
- Offer to bring a few “safe” food dishes to share with the rest of the family. Plate your child’s food before everyone else and keep “safe” foods separated from unsafe foods to avoid cross contamination. (Don’t forget to pull out some leftovers too. Keep it in a sealed container labeled with your child’s name.)
- It may not be helpful to suggest adjustments to the food planned by the host. Instead, bring a safe meal for your child to eat while there. Pack lots of safe snacks and desserts, too. Discuss this with the host first.
- Although unlikely to be necessary, as a last resort, if you do not feel that the situation will be safe for your child, don’t go. Some families feel most comfortable staying at their own house for Thanksgiving dinner and offer to have the rest of the family over home for dessert or a family activity. This would help ensure that you serve safe foods your whole family can enjoy.
Food Allergy Safe Holidays
The main take away here is that if you are going to be going away for the holidays, the best thing to start with is communicating with the host about your concerns and needs. That does not mean that they have to compromise their meal to accommodate you, but at the very least they need to be aware of your situation so that you can work together to make sure you have a food allergy safe holiday. In some cases, you may find yourself pleasantly surprised with peoples’ willingness to learn about, and help you manage your food allergy.
From the Innovation Academy family to yours, have a safe and delicious Thanksgiving!
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