It's August and that means at every corner, you will see a back to school sign. Is your anxiety already spiking!!!??? The hunting and gathering of supplies, the rush to here and there, the prepping and planning of meals. With food allergies, add on top of that list coming up with substitutions that are also quick, safe, and Easy! Honestly, this sounds purely exhausting for parents and caregivers that send their children to an out of home school.
In this two-part blog post, we want to provide a basic floorplan for every parent of food allergic children going to an out of home school.
First and foremost, you will need to start this part well before school begins. If you have decided on a school for your children, contact the principal to schedule an in-person meet and greet. Everyone responsible for your child's safety will need to meet to build a foundation of understanding and trust. This time is to also discuss the needs of the child and what needs to happen in order to get there if currently not in place. The fundamental intention is creating a safe space for all children, including those with food allergies. The principal should be able to assist in getting the teacher and school nurse in on the meeting.
Chancing anything is a huge NO-NO. Preparation is always the name of the game for any special events, outings, or any place your child will be for a long period of time and without you being there.
Also, schedule an appointment with your pediatrician and allergist. You will need to provide your school with doctor's information and it could prove helpful and necessary to meet with every doctor that is an integral part of your child's wellness. They may be able to provide any necessary paperwork for the school, and if filing, for health care plans with the school. For more detailed information on this, check out the following links that may help pave the way to a safer path for your child's school life with allergies.
FARE, Food Allergy Research & Education
Specific to school information link: https://www.foodallergy.org/managing-food-allergies/at-school
Kids with Food Allergies
Specific to school health plans link: http://www.kidswithfoodallergies.org/page/school-health-care-plans-for-child-with-food-allergies.aspx
We recently got a taste of out of home school when our seven year old went to a six hour camp for a week. I really grew more respect for parents that do this all the time! Out of five days, I had to go back twice as I didn't follow the supply list or theme of the day close enough! I found it humorous later but all the driving back and forth…ouch. I was quite prepared when it came to our daughter's lunches, however. Point blank, you have to be. Even before we signed up, we met with the Camp Director, scouted out the camp site and discussed worse case scenarios with coming into contact with specific allergens and how we can avoid that.
Once we did this and felt more comfortable to proceed in signing up, I familiarized myself with the daily things they would do and need. First up, food storage. After some research, I ordered a lunchbox that had an area for a thermos to keep food warm. We ended up purchasing this one (OmieBox Bento Lunch Box With Insulated Thermos) and it was truly helpful. Here are some pictures from that week of what we packed in her lunchbox.
An insulated water bottle could also be helpful, if in fact schools allow water bottles in the class room.
An absolute must will be a medication pack. This can be homemade with clear, plastic bags clearly marked with child's name. Also, looking on etsy.com or Amazon.com, you will find some options of pre-made bags that can be tailored to your needs.
The bare necessities for this medication pack should include:
Last year, it was reported about the hefty price tag brought on by the makers of one of most prescribed ephiniphen injectors, which I'm sure caused a lot of pain and frustration. We are blessed to have insurance through my husband's employer and did not feel the effects of this drastic price change. If you do not have insurance that helps pay for these, please visit this link for information on ways to acquire epi-pens at a discount:
If anyone has a suggestion on ways of acquiring epi-pens without insurance, I'd like to know what you have encountered. Not being able to get an epi-pen when you have life threatening food allergies is just cruel.
One other supply you may want to highly consider is an allergy id bracelet. As of late, I have found a number of sites that offer pretty trendy apparel for the allergic crowd. A bracelet will alert any emergency technician of your specific needs. I do not want to think anything bad could or would happen to any of our food allergic children but things happen. Be prepared so a worst case scenario is already thought about and planned for avoidance.
These links below are helpful sites with ordering ID supplies that fit your family's needs and styles:
Be sure to check back in with us as we will post a couple truly easy and fast meals you can send off with your child!
Until then, enjoy every day of Summer we are given!