Allergy Shmallergy

Simplifying life for families with food allergies.

Thankful November 24, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — malawer @ 9:01 am

There’s so much to be grateful for.  It’s something I appreciate and cherish throughout the year as special moments present themselves.  Recently, my son and I had one such moment:


My alma mater hosts a service day each year in November.  This year, my oldest son and I volunteered our time at a nearby food assistance center.  There, we packed crate after crate after crate of canned food for families in need.  The mood at the food bank was jovial and task-oriented, making our time not only fun but also very productive.  And, he and I had a great time being together while we helped other families – perhaps some like ours.


While there were many cans of vegetables and soup, long life condensed milk, and peanut butter, there wasn’t much hearty food for those who might have food allergies.  Let me say that more directly:  there wasn’t ANY food for those with food allergies aside from canned vegetables and fruit.   Certainly, not enough to make a meal from if there was such a need.


Peanut butter is a protein staple for the food insecure. Breakfast foods are sorely lacking in food pantries.  Inexpensive pasta makes for a filling base for a meal… unless you’re allergic to wheat.


Let’s change that by supporting fellow food allergic families! Please consider buying and donating one of the following which could so greatly help a food insecure family living with food allergies:

  • Nut-free spreads (such as Sunbutter, Soynut Butter, etc)
  • Shelf-stable rice or soy milk
  • Corn or rice-based breakfast cereal
  • Gluten-free pasta or a box or rice

Please donate what you can.  And, thank you!

*Please note, I am not endorsing any particular brand and am not sponsored by any of the above brands.  These are given purely as an example of the products you might find in your local supermarket. *


Food Allergies and The School Lunch November 17, 2013

I can hardly believe I’m able to write about this.  I never thought that my son would be able to participate in any school lunch program.  He entered Kindergarten allergic to peanuts, tree nuts, sesame seeds, eggs and dairy.  Amazingly, in close collaboration with our allergist, my son outgrew that latter two.


We rejoiced when he most recently outgrew dairy.  Our family happily made a list of all the foods he could now taste.  And, suddenly, we realized that he might be able to sign up for our school’s hot lunch program – a program he had been hoping to try.


Like many schools, our hot lunch program is entirely nut-free.  That came as a huge relief.  But sesame seed allergies are tricky.  And, I would have to do a lot of research to ensure the meals were still safe for my son before signing him up.


I first went online to our school’s internal website.  I was pleasantly surprised to find the lunch schedule mapped out from September until winter break.  And when I scrolled on each dish on the menu, I was even more surprised to see the ingredient lists pop up.  What luck!  I made some notes on a few meals where questions remained (such as ingredients in hamburger buns, oil used to fry falafel, additional information needed in various seasoning mixes) and contacted the school to get answers.


The Director of Food Services at the school was amazing!  When I contacted him, he immediately made time for us to sit down in the kitchen and gather additional information.  He demonstrated great understanding of food allergies and was patient as we plodded through his kitchen reading the ingredient lists of bottles and packages.  We made a final list of questions he needed to follow up on with his suppliers and I left with a sense of confidence (and awe) that my son could try hot lunches.


As it turns out, there are three meals that my son can’t eat:  Falafel (they’re baked not fried, but the mix contained sesame seed oil) and two Asian-inspired dishes.  Thankfully, the cafeteria always serves two main dishes each day, so my son can choose the other on days when one of the above forbidden meals are offered.


How has he liked it?  Pretty good!

  • He’s 8, active and growing.  So, he’s HUNGRY at lunch.  He loves that he can eat a hardy meal and go back for seconds.
  • He enjoys the variety:  rotisserie chicken one day, italian sausage and peppers the next, chicken fajitas a third.
  • Plus, it’s hot:  roasted potatoes and meatball subs taste way better warm!
  • I love that he tries new things all the time.  Not only does he only have limited options for a main dish, but watching his friends chow down on something new, like jerk pork chop, intrigues him into giving it a fair shot.
  • And, I’d be lying if I didn’t say that it’s certainly easier for both of us in the morning!

I was biting my nails with anxiety the first day of hot lunch.  Although I had checked and read the packaging, I was still nervous about him embarking on this great, big step.  But he came home thrilled – and proud!  And I love that kind of confidence and hope this transition in the life of food allergies only continues to foster his sense that he can manage anything!