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please help me think this through!

My church is wanting to start labeling food brought in for fellowship time each Sunday after worship and at special pot-luck dinners. We have more and more members with various food allergies/sensitives and those of us who deal with food allergies are worried about someone getting sick not knowing what was in food. What we are now trying to decide is how to go about this. I think we want to have some way to identify each dish - some sort of label-holder that the church could provide and would enable each person to indicate what is in their dish. The system will need to be easy to implement because the whole congregation is not on board with how necessary this is for some folks. What creative ideas do you have? Have you seen anything that works well? Any advice or ideas are welcome!

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DS and I both have food allergies. We don't eat food prepared by others due to cross contamination and the simple fact that people who don't deal with food allergies daily/personally are unaware of what a food allergy really means.

DS was in preschool and his teachers could never grasp that no dairy or eggs, no baked goods, meant that he couldn't eat muffins or cookies.

I really would not trust church members to know and understand the issue. That jelly used to fill cute little thumbprint cookies may have had a peanut butter covered knife dipped into the jar... Little things like that... Just too risky.

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I hear what you are saying - and I should say that I must eat gluten-free and my husband and dd's all have peanut allergies, so I deal with this myself. We are lucky in that none of us have life-threatening reactions at this point - but my dd's could get there. The pastor also has anaphylactic reactions to all fish and shellfish - after 11 years most folks now know and remember that, but there have been some close calls. I am thinking that whatever system we devise and implement may not make it so those with severe allergies feel comfortable eating things, but I feel we can at least try to do something. It is an important part of welcoming people, in my opinion - and I want to help us do better. I also think that having some system in place will help raise awareness among those who don't understand and have to deal with this themselves - which will hopefully help all of us with allergies.

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You could pre-print labels with a list of allergens and a check box next to each one. But honestly, I think doing so is a very bad idea. What if someone misses a box and the visitor with allergies trusts the label? Even major corporations mess this up and have to do recalls. I would not personally allow my allergic child to eat anything at a potluck, no matter what the cook told me. Now my shellfish allergic DH does eat others' cooking. But he's an adult and has to deal with his own choices. :glare:

 

For our family, what would feel truly welcoming would be more activities that don't involve food. I would LOVE for that to happen.

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I think it is a nice idea, well-meant but definitely more tricky than you'd think. Usually at potlucks my allergic daughter only gets things that are very easy to figure out--fruit, bread, plain meat, etc.--or only what i've made. Anyway, I have made it a rule to always make sure that I am first in line to avoid cross-contamination. I would love to see a rule that people with dietary issues go first!

 

I don't like potlucks much. :001_smile:

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I appreciate good intentions and wanting to help with awareness.

 

I'm not any help with advising about church functions but if someone comes to my house with a life-threatening allergy, they are welcome to bring their own food or be over for non-food centered visits. I'd rather not be liable for trying to cook for someone else's set of allergies. Cooking for preferences is one thing, but if someone has a life-threatening allergy, I'm not up for that.

 

And as someone who has been through anaphylaxis more than once, I am most happy when I can bring my own food or be part of a non-food related event. So the efforts would not make a difference in how welcome I felt or how I ate. Again, I appreciate good intentions but I get frustrated when people try to offer me things repeatedly and take it personally when I know it is not safe.

ETA: Oh, so you see that it is more about welcoming people and raising awareness and know that people will not likely want to eat even if you do something. I can appreciate that but I'd direct energies to raising awareness in other ways and think of offering events that aren't as focused on food.

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A nice idea and I've been to potlucks where some labels were put on food that is gluten free ( prepared by gluten free folks) or peanut/tree nut free (me). However, my tree nut kid won't eat from potlucks. I pack him a full dinner with dessert to take with us. He gets panic attacks at the thought of eating food that could make him sick.

I know most people in similar situations feel the same way.

 

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List ingredients on a 3x5 card and place card inside a sandwich baggie. Tape baggie to dish (not to the table, but rather to the dish itself). Specify that ingredients should be printed, not written in cursive.

 

And by the way, God bless you and your church for taking this step. It's hard on my son, who cannot have milk products, to go to a church potluck and watch everyone else eat. I usually get him something separate (a sub sandwich or some such) but he would like to be like everyone else, eating the party food. He has unfortunately had more than one horrible reaction to food others said they thought was safe, but wasn't.

 

Edited to add--Of course for those with anaphylaxis or celiac, the labels won't make any difference. They will not be able to eat the food anyway. My sister is severely celiac and has to be so careful that her food not touch any crumb or tiny bit of gluten. But for someone like my son, who is lactose intolerant, those labels are a wonderful blessing. Our homeschool co-op did this at our Christmas brunch, and several families with allergic children expressed appreciation

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My church has had an on again off again policy that no peanuts dogs or tree nus be allowed at church so that those allergic can be in the building safely but those of us with LTFA still don't eat. This policy definitely helps my family feel welcome. I say the policy is on again off again because over time people tend to forget and wwe have to raise awareness all over again.s

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Our church has gone peanut free since my youngest was diagnosed, he simply cannot be in a building with people and especially children that are eating peanuts- too dangerous. Not to mention, he's only 4, if I turn my back for a 2nd he cant be fully trusted not to take or accept food from the table. The rule is not in place so that my son can eat all the food brought, but rather so that he can safely be in the building. When we have potlucks (and our church is small- only about 60 or so people), we get at the front of the line and get his food before the serving spoons have a chance to cross contaminate or fingers touching, etc, and we pick things I know are safe- anything brought by myself or MIL (she's OCD and extremely careful to watch ingredients and cross contamination), fresh clean fruit and veggies, and rolls that are always brought in from a local peanut free bakery. However, I only do this at our church, others are a no go, I pack him a lunch and a treat for most places we go. With his multiple allergies, it's just too risky. If there are peanut laden desserts being served we have to leave, it's just not safe for him.

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I think it is a welcome attempt at helping people be more comfortable. My family has allergies, but not life threatening ones. I get an itchy mouth and sores in my mouth, dd gets excema etc. It would be nice to avoid foods that have the ingredients we react to, all the while knowing that it won't be 100% accurate and we may still have a reaction.

 

I don't think it will be effective for those with life threatening reactions....to many chances for contamination. But for those with intolerences or non-life threating allergies, it would be a welcome site.

 

 

For simple signage. Write or print (computer printed preferably) on a 3x5 size card/paper the ingredients. Cut a piece of cardstock in half. Fold the two halves, in half again into tents. Attach the 3x5 card to the paper tent. Simple, cheap, recyclable and easily customized by color change or by a creative lady or two at the church. They can be thrown away after each use, or made with a sturdier material to reuse. They store in virtually no space (same as half a sheet of paper).

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Good thought behind it, but it is just too risky. People with serious food allergies just cannot eat food at an event like this. I applaud the thought, but I would drop the effort. If anything, just make it plenty easy for people to bring their own food in for their allergies and don't try to push them to try to participate in the collective effort. My dd can eat many/most of the big allergens. People don't seem to understand that you can be allergic to anything. She is constantly being told that ____ doesn't contain any allergens. Guess what, that lettuce can kill her. The parsley that looks so very pretty, deadly. The carrots and onions in the chicken stock you purchased to use in the mashed potatoes? yep... The ingredient lists would have to include every single ingredient of every single thing used. People aren't likely to do it, and honestly, we couldn't trust them even if they did.

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If you have many people with sensitivities, I would suggest that gluten come from people who are gf at home, peanut free from those peanut and treenut free at home ect. Each of these people should do an ingredient list with all ingredients, including brands used for things like vanilla, sauces, broths.

 

When you set, have a large table for general stuff which is not labeled and not prepared by people familiar with allergies. There will always be people who don't understand or think it's unnecessary. Just leave them alone.

 

Then have a couple of allergy friendly tables. Ideally one for each allergy group, but if not isolate groups on the tables. I would again urge that only the people who prepare food for a particular allergy at home prepare food for that group at the potluck. I would make a point of allowing persons with food sensitivities to line up first and remindng people that if they can eat from the general table they should get their food from there only.

 

The set up team should include someone who regularly deals with allergies. I used to make gf items for coffe hour. I had several gf families thank me, but I stopped because the people who set up wouldn't respect that to keep items gf they needed a separat space away from other plates. They didn't seem to want to learn or understand even though there was obviously a group that was benefitting from the contribution.

 

Thank you for doing this. Once the food is labeled and set apart. Persons with allergies can make their decisions,but being given a choice shows real care for others.

 

A couple more things, the food label should include the contributors name. Allergy free tables should inde their basics like cut fruit, cut veg and salad made by people who have the targeted allergy.

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I have friends with serious food allergies and they bring their own food wherever they go. People are well intentioned but mistakes happen. It took me years before I learned to recognize all the way corn is hidden in our food. Ascorbic acid-corn, vitamin c -corn, vodka-corn. and so many more. My friend would be appreciative of the efforts but it is too easy too miss something if you are not living with a serious food allergy. A better way to go would be to be welcoming and understanding of people bringing their own food to eat.

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I think this a good idea in theory. Since you said that not everybody is on board with the idea, I would worry about how careful those people especially would be. I'm celiac and I'm suprised at the comments I still get from people who know that I can't eat gluten. Can't you have just a little bit? I know you can't have bread, but is it okay if I put flour in something to thicken it? Etc. And the one person who told me she can't eat gluten either, but is okay if she only eats whole wheat bread!?!??? Some people just don't get it, and that is okay. They really don't have to get it, because it is not their issue. I however must take care of myself, so I bring separate food with me to these types of events or eat before I go. Those who love me don't care and don't make an issue of it.

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I wanted to mention something that DOES make us feel welcome at church - we do a themed potluck every Wednesday. I receive a list of what the themes will be for the month (spaghetti, soup, vegetables, etc). This way, I can make dd's meal look similar to the others. They also have given her the run of the kitchen and she is able to keep her food in the refrigerator (labeled with her name, nobody bothers it) and use the microwave to heat it herself.

 

As a general rule, she won't eat food - not even fruit - at a potluck as she worries about the preparation and handling. She is very reactive to the smallest amounts and becomes very ill, very quickly. If it's sealed, in a package, with ingredients clearly listed, she will consider it, but only if she is the one to open the package and pull her portion out of the bag. If an adult does it, she very politely asks them to wash their hands first.

 

Our church has offered to do what they can to make us comfortable, but we're most comfortable providing our own food.

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I agree with those who said they'd prefer fewer food related activities or maybe more where everyone just brings their own. I do not trust food labeling and I think most with allergies wouldn't trust it either. It would be a lot of work and stress and very few people with serious allergies would eat home labeled food anyway.

 

I really wish churches would quit giving out candy and snacks to school age kids. My DD has an unusual allergy that shows up in lots of candies and kids sweets. Because her allergy is uncommon, companies aren't required to label it explicitly. She's allergic to apples and it can be in ingredients labeled as natural flavors or in pectin. Not all pectin is bad, but nobody labels what the pectin source is. It's hard to take it away from her when she heard the teacher tell her it's ok because it's not apple. Another DD is allergic to milk protein and people will think oh- brownies are ok. It's made with a mix and I didn't put milk in.....but the mix was made with milk. It's just not worth it to me.

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I like one of the previous posts that mentioned putting the name of the maker on the label as well, that way if there are any questions you can find her. We have many people at our little church (mostly children) with food allergies. Since we're smaller and we know each other's allergens, we make accordingly. We give our children that have allergies food that is clearly ok (sliced lunch ham, apples) or food that was made by the ladies who also have children with allergies. Sometimes we coordinate beforehand - one makes a dessert, one makes a main dish, etc. I understand that at larger churches that might not work out. :) I think having a table dedicated to allergen-free items is super. That would be really nice!

My children's list of allergens include dairy, peanuts/tree nuts, eggs, strawberries/kiwi/bananas, some cuts of beef (I know, weird...) and gluten. So we know about avoidance. :)

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I appreciate your heart in this. I can see why it seems like a good idea, but I'm not sure it is.

 

My son doesn't eat food prepared by others. We've had some bad experiences when people were both aware and trying to be careful. Cross contamination was the issue in two cases and just ignorance I guess in the other. At a church event someone picked all the nuts out of a dish and told my son, 5 at the time, it was nut free. She really thought it was I guess. I don't know. My sister was trying really hard and aware but still didn't think about the fact that companies don't have to label cross contamination on their equipment. Someone else made us food and didn't realize their own cooking equipment had nut residue even after cleaning. I just don't think it's safe to rely on someone else to be allergy aware or to be able to make something allergy safe in a kitchen that contains allergens.

 

My concern would be that someone might get sick. Even non-life threatening allergies can suddenly turn life threatening after all. Beyond that, there may be some liability issues in providing information that might lead an allergy sufferer to falsely believe something is safe.

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Most of us avoid gluten here. I would not trust gluten eaters to decide if a food is gluten free so a gluten free label would not reassure me. Gluten hides in so many items. I would feel most comfortable with a list of ingredients, though people could forget to list a tablespoon of flour in a stew, for instance, which would contaminate the dish for my family. I appreciate what you are trying to do, but I would likely not feel comfortable eating much food at the potluck unless it included make it yourself salads or baked potato bar or something like that. Also, if people provide tortillas or chips and such, if they are left in the bag, I could identify which would be okay for my family. That is one suggestion.

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Another poster agreeing that it's just not a good idea. Contamination is too risky and not worth putting people's health and lives at risk.

 

Another thing to think about is that there are many many people who just don't get it. They don't understand how careful one has to be. By putting food out with a label of ingredients you are actually putting allergy/celiac people on the spot. The label says the dish *should* be gf (or nut free, dairy free, etc) but there is always the risk of contamination. So then a celiac/allergic person still doesn't eat any of the food, and others there will view that person as being an attention seeking, over protection, over dramatic diva for NOT eating the food that is supposed to be okay.

 

Trust me I've been in the situation and it's not pleasant. I've had well meaning people make something for me and if I decline to eat it I'm considered rude, ungrateful, diva, and just plain obnoxious. Well, I've gotten sick one too many times from such situations. I don't care who I offend or what others think of me.

 

However, by labeling food it is putting those at risk in uncomfortable situations of 1) having to try and explain why they still can't eat the food and being viewed as rude.

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please help me think this through!

My church is wanting to start labeling food brought in for fellowship time each Sunday after worship and at special pot-luck dinners. We have more and more members with various food allergies/sensitives and those of us who deal with food allergies are worried about someone getting sick not knowing what was in food. What we are now trying to decide is how to go about this. I think we want to have some way to identify each dish - some sort of label-holder that the church could provide and would enable each person to indicate what is in their dish. The system will need to be easy to implement because the whole congregation is not on board with how necessary this is for some folks. What creative ideas do you have? Have you seen anything that works well? Any advice or ideas are welcome!

 

 

Quite frankly, I would not do this at all. I think it provides a false sense of security that may be very dangerous for some. A person with a serious food allergy would be trusting a large number of different people to have an understanding and awareness of the ingredients they used, that truly may not be present. A person with a serious food allergy is taking a big risk by consuming food that was not prepared under their control. I am of the opinion that they should not do it, because it is not safe to trust other people to remember and understand all of their ingredients. Instead, at every event, it would be nice to provide a plate of fresh fruit, a plate of fresh veggies, a plate of real cheese, and some packaged allergen-free foods, that stay in or right next to the package, with the label available for everyone to read, and with their own space and serving dish/utensils so there is no cross-contamination happening.

 

Our son used to have a severe allergy to both dairy and eggs. I learned that I could trust almost nobody to know that a food really did not contain these ingredients. People would not understand that some minor ingredient they may have included and forgot to mention was a source of dairy. There were so many times when someone would come up and tell me that he could have this thing they brought because it was dairy and egg free, and when I started going over the ingredients with them, there was an ingredient that would not have been safe for him. I learned to only let him have foods I prepared myself, or packaged foods with a label I could read myself, or things that were clearly safe, like fruit. When we knew we were going to an occasion with food he would want, we just brought along our own version. This was much safer and less stressful.

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We wouldn't let dd eat anything the church provides. It's not just the grown ups, what if little kids use the same spoon for two different things? Your heart is in the right place, but I worry things will go wrong.

 

 

We took a chance last year at a church potluck. The person who cooked the soup swore up and down that none of ds' allergens were in it. He ended up in the ER with an anaphylactic reaction. It was VERY scary. Come to find out, someone had used the spoon to stir the safe soup that had just been in the soup with shellfish! ACK!

 

So, I agree with the others that, while it is very nice that you are trying, I would not trust it.

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Another poster agreeing that it's just not a good idea. Contamination is too risky and not worth putting people's health and lives at risk.

 

Another thing to think about is that there are many many people who just don't get it. They don't understand how careful one has to be. By putting food out with a label of ingredients you are actually putting allergy/celiac people on the spot. The label says the dish *should* be gf (or nut free, dairy free, etc) but there is always the risk of contamination. So then a celiac/allergic person still doesn't eat any of the food, and others there will view that person as being an attention seeking, over protection, over dramatic diva for NOT eating the food that is supposed to be okay.

 

Trust me I've been in the situation and it's not pleasant. I've had well meaning people make something for me and if I decline to eat it I'm considered rude, ungrateful, diva, and just plain obnoxious. Well, I've gotten sick one too many times from such situations. I don't care who I offend or what others think of me.

 

However, by labeling food it is putting those at risk in uncomfortable situations of 1) having to try and explain why they still can't eat the food and being viewed as rude.

 

This. It is EXHAUSTING to have to explain to every well meaning person that what they did to try to be helpful isn't. It is so hard to feel like you are the bad guy when you are just trying to keep your kids safe. We do have several women at church who will put non-food items (even coins) in Easter eggs, etc. for my kids. I appreciate that, but when I get the person who wants to respond to my every caution with a fix, it just makes me want to cry. I don't like having to explain the 20 different ways someone can screw up a cookie. The life is tough, explaining it over and over again doesn't make it any easier. KWIM? Yet I know that even complaining about it sounds ungrateful.

 

I try to always be gracious when people question, but allergy moms get worn down and any event involving food already has a stress factor of 7 or 8, whether anyone asks a question or not.

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I think the idea is a good one, but agree that anyone with a serious allergy could be in danger a number of things going wrong.

 

People with food sensitivities would be helped though. I'd try to keep it simple and make the supplies available at the food service area. Stationary stores have a clear plastic flyer stand that might be useful for easy display.

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This. It is EXHAUSTING to have to explain to every well meaning person that what they did to try to be helpful isn't. It is so hard to feel like you are the bad guy when you are just trying to keep your kids safe. We do have several women at church who will put non-food items (even coins) in Easter eggs, etc. for my kids. I appreciate that, but when I get the person who wants to respond to my every caution with a fix, it just makes me want to cry. I don't like having to explain the 20 different ways someone can screw up a cookie. The life is tough, explaining it over and over again doesn't make it any easier. KWIM? Yet I know that even complaining about it sounds ungrateful.

 

I try to always be gracious when people question, but allergy moms get worn down and any event involving food already has a stress factor of 7 or 8, whether anyone asks a question or not.

 

:grouphug: Yep. I understand 100%. Food allergies are exhausting. They mean never ending attention to all food in all environments. They mean putting up with rolled eyes, or hostile people. They mean hurting the good people who try, because you still can't eat their stuff. They mean isolation, misunderstanding, accusations of being overprotective, accusations about just wanting attention....

 

Imagine a room of tables, each with a gun. Well meaning people assure you it is safe to play Russian Roulette with the gun at each table, because, they promise they are 100% bullet free - they checked for you. If you insist on checking before pulling the trigger, they are hurt because you don't trust them... OK, that last part wouldn't happen, because no one normal would expect you to trust them with your life like that. The reason people don't "get" food allergies is that they really just can't comprehend that a tiny smidge of a peanut (or whatever) could kill.

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DS and I both have food allergies. We don't eat food prepared by others due to cross contamination and the simple fact that people who don't deal with food allergies daily/personally are unaware of what a food allergy really means.

DS was in preschool and his teachers could never grasp that no dairy or eggs, no baked goods, meant that he couldn't eat muffins or cookies.

I really would not trust church members to know and understand the issue. That jelly used to fill cute little thumbprint cookies may have had a peanut butter covered knife dipped into the jar... Little things like that... Just too risky.

 

This exactly. The bottom line is that unless the cook has the training/experience required to prevent cross contamination, the food isn't safe period.

 

One of the moms on this board had a son end up with a full-blown allergic reaction because someone in the kitchen stirred more than one dish with the same spoon causing a nut cross-contamination to occur.

 

Today at my quilt store job, one of the owners tried desperately to get me to eat a salad she had made at home, assuring me that the dressing was vinegar and oil and I could eat it. I stood my ground and well, she's a dear soul who always feels badly about my dietary restrictions and wants so much to feed me. She ran home to get the bottle and prove to me that it was gluten-free. She was horrified when I pointed out the gluten (modified wheat starch) in the ingredients list. She had also put cheese on the salad and she couldn't remember what brand. Some brands have wheat added to the cheese to reduce stickiness. Real cheese is usually okay. Processed cheese such as velvetta and what not may not be and cheddars or provolones or that have had "flavorings" or "seasonings" added are usually a no-no because they often have a wheat starch binder. Dextrin is another. How many cooks will know Dextrin is a wheat derivative? Oats processed in the same factory as wheat can be horrible for a celiac sufferer. It's not just that a certain ingredient is missing from the dish, but where and how were the other ingredients processed?

 

Then there are the people who get migraines from MSG and it's ALL over in American processed foods. Cooking from scratch is the only way to avoid it. However, cooking from scratch means different things to different cooks. My SIL thinks she's cooked "from scratch" if she has taken several cans/boxes, etc. of highly processed items and put them all together as a casserole. So, her label might well be a disaster. Will she take the time to notate every single ingredient from every single can or box????

 

I have one restaurant I can eat at. I have two relatives whom I can allow to cook for me - my sister, also gluten-free, and my mom. That's it. I can't even trust dh. He means well, but it's suprising how often Mr. Science scans an ingredient list and misses something. Add to this that I no longer consume corn syrup, high fructose or otherwise, MSG, or hydrogenated/hydrolized anything because I have reactions to them that are very, very noticeable and unpleasant, well, church eating, potlucks, dinner at a friend's house, etc. just cannot happen for me. If someone asks me over for tea and doesn't offer food, that's bliss!

 

I've recently had to explain this to our pastor. He thought it was going to be sooooooooo easy to offer all of these different food choices on Wednesday nights since the church decided to try to eat a meal together regularly. HA! By the end of the conversation he decided that the best course of action was to ask everyone to pack their own food and eat kind of picnic style together.

 

I'm looking forward to dd's wedding. I'll actually be able to eat there. The caterer is a dear friend whose daughter has type 1 diabetes and whose son has a nut allergy. She gets it! Lots of perfectly safe gluten-free food will be provided. I will probably stuff myself for the first time in a VERY LONG time! :D

 

To be honest, one of the things that I've learned from this is that our culture is tooooooo food oriented. I'd like to see more activities in which food is NOT provided. We do not have food at any of our 4-H meetings except the annual HUGE science night. For that, we provide cubed pineapple, grapes, kiwi, orange slices, celery sticks, carrot sticks, red pepper slices, and broccoli florettes. We have a container of plain olive oil and one of distilled apple cider vinegar that one can mix for a dip for the veggies for those that really want a dip. Water, apple cider, and unsweetened ice tea are the beverages. This seems to work well for the bulk of the people. While some of the kids do not take any fresh veggies, there is usually a fruit they will take. We don't worry about hurting anyone's feelings for failing to provide baked goods, chips, carby things and dairy products.

 

When I suggested that this be the Sunday morning food fare offered at 11:00 a.m. after church during the fellowship time so that A. if some child ruins their appetite for lunch by loading up, at least it's been healthy food they've snarfed and B. it doesn't eliminate all food allergies, but it does take care of quite a few, and C. we would be encouraging a healthier outlook on snacking, I was met with D. I was looked at as though I had a horn growing out of my forehead!

 

Faith

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I would advocate for more activities without food, for all the reasons already mentioned here. There's just no way to make events involving food safe for those with life-threatening food allergies.

 

Absolutely, and like Kleine Hexe said, it gets exhausting. I no longer make my own food and take it to church. It's awful because people just do not mind their own business and the looks of disdain make one feel very unwelcome. It's easier to NOT go. So, we no longer stay for the after church fellowship. We do not attend the Church Christmas Programs, Easter Sunrise worship because it's combined with breakfast, the deacon dinners, seminars they offer, etc. If church takes more than 1.5 hrs., you can bet they've planned food in there.

 

Even the Lord's Supper is difficult for me. I can't have the bread. The last time I just sucked it up and took the bread so I wouldn't feel out of place because pastor forgot and I didn't want to make an awkward moment, I ended up tied to the bathroom for several hours afterward.

 

It can get lonely. Last year I had to pack all of my food when we took the rocket team to Washington, DC. One day they were eating dinner in a restaurant and I was sitting in the car with my packed food. DH was chaperoning them inside. The next thing I know, all of them trooped out of the restaurant with their food in containers. I asked them what they were doing and they said they really did not like the thought of me eating alone in the car and decided they were going to picnic with me. Dh drove to the first park he could find and we all sat out on the grass together. Love those teens! So sweet and thoughtful! We had a fun meal together.

 

Faith

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I can't even trust dh. He means well, but it's suprising how often Mr. Science scans an ingredient list and misses something.

 

 

Glad to know I am not the only wife dealing with that! Every Christmas, DH buys me hot cocoa mix...with gluten in it. Every Valentine's, he buys me a box of chocolates, always with gluten. This year it was chocolate covered pretzels. To him "pretzel" wasn't wheat. He is a science guy and just doesn't think through what all gluten/ wheat is.

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Absolutely, and like Kleine Hexe said, it gets exhausting. I no longer make my own food and take it to church. It's awful because people just do not mind their own business and the looks of disdain make one feel very unwelcome. It's easier to NOT go. So, we no longer stay for the after church fellowship. We do not attend the Church Christmas Programs, Easter Sunrise worship because it's combined with breakfast, the deacon dinners, seminars they offer, etc. If church takes more than 1.5 hrs., you can bet they've planned food in there.

 

Even the Lord's Supper is difficult for me. I can't have the bread. The last time I just sucked it up and took the bread so I wouldn't feel out of place because pastor forgot and I didn't want to make an awkward moment, I ended up tied to the bathroom for several hours afterward.

 

It can get lonely. Last year I had to pack all of my food when we took the rocket team to Washington, DC. One day they were eating dinner in a restaurant and I was sitting in the car with my packed food. DH was chaperoning them inside. The next thing I know, all of them trooped out of the restaurant with their food in containers. I asked them what they were doing and they said they really did not like the thought of me eating alone in the car and decided they were going to picnic with me. Dh drove to the first park he could find and we all sat out on the grass together. Love those teens! So sweet and thoughtful! We had a fun meal together.

 

Faith

 

:grouphug: :grouphug: :grouphug:

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One of my closest friends is a worst-case-scenario celiac, bless her heart. She is also deathly allergic to dairy and tropical oils/fruits (they cause strokes), and corn makes her terribly ill (although it isn't a real *allergy, KWIM?). So imagine trying to cook something (or buy a packed mix of *anything*) that has no gluten, dairy, corn, or tropical oil. I don't know how she even finds enough to eat.

 

If she goes to a church event where there's food, she just doesn't eat. She just ignores any evil glances from fellow church-goers. :glare:

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This doesn't really go with the original question, but I'm going to post these thoughts anyway.

 

In a community setting, like a church or a co-op or wherever people are regularly meeting and sharing food, one welcoming thing you can do is be one less person pressuring someone with allergies or serious conditions about what they are eating. Let them bring their food. Let them sit out if they are tired of doing that. Don't take it personally that they don't feel comfortable eating your food. Think of how many people just here have posted about close calls, actual emergencies, and stress due to misunderstandings. So many are saying that either fewer food-centered activities or the freedom to just bring their own or not be part of it would be very welcoming and helpful.

 

Also, a person with severe allergies or other dietary concerns may already feel like there's such a loss of control over something so everyday and normal as eating -- it can be a mental burden, especially at first or when it's your child you worry about. Other people trying, even in a sincere way, to take control by making offers or insisting something is safe just adds to the stress.

 

Another thing -- take any opportunity to help others be trained to deal with an emergency. A person in anaphylactic shock may react so quickly, it becomes impossible to self-administer. We've trained our allergic child to self-inject but we fully anticipate that we would have to if (and I know it's more a matter of "when") it happens. It sounds simple -- inject at the first sign of emergency. But, no, it is not always that simple. I've heard people say things like "it would harm them if I gave it accidentally, so I would hesitate" or "give Benadryl and wait it out" when really, you just can't delay. And I know firsthand that some severe reactions do not appear the way you might think they will.

 

It means everything to me that I have a couple of people in my life that do not have allergies but have taken the time to know what to do if I show signs of anaphylaxis and cannot self-administer because it has saved my life. My opinion is that everyone with severe allergies should know how to self-treat but not necessarily be expected to because confusion or irrationality can set in quickly.

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