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Peanuts at church

post #1 of 34
Thread Starter 

I need some ideas for writing a letter to our church to put a peanut free policy in place.  My ds was recently diagnosed with a severe peanut allergy and now carries an epi pen.  He hasn't had his allergy testing done yet, we go for a consult in January.  (he reacted to an accidental peanut exposure)  Our church has a large Sunday School with kids coming in from the community and they get treats every week.  From time to time there have been treats with p/b in them.  Recently it has been peanut city there, yesterday they were giving out Reese p/b cups and Oh Henry bars from a variety pack, my ds is not in SS yet nor is there a nursery.  All it takes is one child sharing with my allergic toddler when I'm not looking, not to mention you never know if one the community kids is allergic.  But this needs to be addressed NOW.  I am a very non confrontational person, so I need help writing something that is polite but firm.  Most people know about his allergy now, I'm not sure if I should send an email out to everyone or just the elder who is the superintendent at first.  I also don't want to be too formal because I know these people pretty well...

 

Also what do I do about other people's houses??  Our church often has get togethers at each others homes for singing and eating.  The tables are laden with sweets and usually a few have p/b in them.  It is crowded and everything is in ds' reach, so I'd have to watch him like a hawk, we would also have the issue of kids trying to share with him.  How do I control what others serve in their home?  I make sure to tell anyone coming to my house they cannot bring anything peanut related. 

post #2 of 34

I was never able to get our church to respond quickly enough to the changes needed to make the nursery safe for my DD (she had anaphylactic event at 22 months and is highly allergies to peanuts and more).  We had to change the way we went to church (even tried a new church that did have good policies, but DH was not happy there).  I tried a letter, e-mail, phone calls and even sit down with Pastor.  Changes have been made but DD is now 5 so too late for her.  This was one of my most frustrating journeys as I felt the church was not there for our family.  But my DDs safety was my primary concern.  It seemed that the face to face meeting had the most impact.  He could see my emotion and get a sense of the struggle that a severe food allergic child and family faces.  Would that be possible for you?

post #3 of 34

I have a similar but opposite situation. Our local homeschool group is meeting at my house and one of the new families came yesterday for the first time and her child has anaphylactic reactions to peanuts and tree nuts. We have some 50 people coming each week and can not possibly control what they eat before or in route to our house (ie. stopping for fast food in route (peanut oils, etc.), eating nut-based foods or treats, bringing along nut-based snacks in their bags). I understand that even cross-contamination on their hands could be dangerous.

 

And to complicate matters, our family relies on nuts as a primary protein source, daily. And we eat in multiple rooms throughout the house (playroom, kitchen, breakfast area, computer area, sunroom, family room, etc). Thus we are not a 'nut-free facility' by any stretch. In fact, everyone in our family consumes many nut-based foods multiple times every single day: peanuts, cashews, Brazil nuts, pecans, walnuts, etc.

 

I'm concerned for them participating. But, don't want them to feel excluded and realistically am unable to alter our dietary lifestyle since our son has limited types of foods he'll eat consistently...

 

Would love to hear suggestions.

 

 

Pat

post #4 of 34

disagree that your church needs to go nut free just because your child has developed an allergy.  It  does not make any sense to me. FTR,  I also don't agree with the school policies either.

 

Children, especially toddlers who do not understand boundaries, can be exposed to nuts in so many other ways that you can't control.  The food piece is actually the easiest one to control.  You teach her not to eat food from others, your tell her SS teacher she is allergic. You keep an epi pen with you and/or in the class room at all times. Thinking that your child is safe because no one can eat nuts in a particular building/surrounding is not realistic.

 

 Trust me, peanut butter and nuts are in virtually everything and cross contamination is common. You get a false sense of security when a place is peanut free.

 

What about the kids with celiac? diabetes? lactose intolerance? Should the church ban wheat? sugar? milk products?  It is not going to happen.

 

Unfortunately, you are going to have to watch your child like hawk until they are old enough to learn what their allergy means and old enough to use an epi pen themselves.  You are going to have travel with your own supply of approved snacks and foods.  Do you know how often manufactures change their ingredients? It can be peanut free one week and not the next.  You have to be vigilant. You are going to have to ask friends to wash their hands, wipe their feet.  You are going to have to remind friends, teacher other parents again, again and again.  Ultimately it is you and your child’s responsibility to stay safe and no one else’s.

 

Yeah it sucks but that is what it will be like until they are old enough to control it themselves.  And even then you won’t stop worrying. But as parents do we ever?

post #5 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by HollyBearsMom View Post

disagree that your church needs to go nut free just because your child has developed an allergy.  It  It does not make any sense to me. FTR, I also don't agree with the school policies either.


bigeyes.gif Wow. You obviously don't have a child with a peanut allergy, I'm guessing. I agree that no one can completely meet the allergy needs of every allergic child out there, but peanuts/tree nut are THE #1 FATAL allergic reaction in children. A child with celiac who gets some cross-contamination or direct exposure might get really sick, but isn't going to die. A kid who gets touched by a toddler with peanut butter on their fingers MIGHT. It's not even a comparable situation.

I certainly don't expect everyone around us to conform to DD's diet and all her allergens, but I do think a nut-free policy makes sense for an organization that is trying to serve families on a regular basis like a church or school. Peanut/tree nut allergies are common enough and dangerous enough that people need to be aware of them. I do agree that parents and children need to be aware of their allergies and not to share other people's food, but that's kind of difficult to explain to an infant or young toddler, which is why caregivers need to be aware. And rather than making a caregiver responsible for a life-threatening situation, why not just made the group nut free?

Why does it bother you anyway? There are about a million different foods that you can send with your kid to school or church. I'm not sure why parents get so defensive about it, like it's such a major inconvenience to them. Who cares about the other kids who might get seriously injured or DIE... it's more important that your kid can eat a pb&j sandwich. irked.gif

OP- you might check out the Kids with Food Allergies website- I'm pretty sure they have some resources about dealing with schools/organizations in regard to allergies.
post #6 of 34

It is always interesting to see the lack of compassion within a church community.... especially for those who are the most vulnerable.  

 

First I will say that there is no reason for there to be any food in church, or Sunday school.  And if there must be, why not after services are over when everyone joins together, outside of the classrooms, usually in a larger hall area, where children are reunited with their parents..... who can watch over them?

 

For one hour, or an hour and a half, children should be able to survive without food.  

 

But, I understand that these days, while everyone is worried about obesity, it is more important to teach children they have to eat every 5 minutes..... even at church.

 

So, if you approach anyone about going nut free, and they scoff, maybe ask them what would Jesus do?  Then, suggest that church be nut free.  That when people send in food it is in packaging that can be read, and with allergen warnings.  I wouldn't necessarily expect support, and it is better to know ahead of time knowing that you may be terribly disappointed by the reaction you get from what is supposed to be a supportive community.  Who knows though, you could be one of the lucky ones who finds compassion and understanding, with people who prioritize the life of a child over food.

 

Miracles can happen..... and what a better place than in a church?!

 

post #7 of 34

BTW, Pat..... I appreciate your post, and your concern with respect to those coming over to your house with nut allergies.  

 

For me, personally, I would appreciate knowing about nuts being your primary protein source, and that you eat everywhere in your home.  Have you told the Mom of the family with the nut allergic child?

 

Most likely, I would pass on attending the group when it was at your house, unless part of the area included was outside (and other kids actually went out there so we weren't just sitting out there alone).

 

That you are aware of the possible issues, and if you understand and didn't get offended if someone just passed on attending at your house, then I think informing that parent and leaving it up to them to figure out how they want to address the situation seems best.  

 

post #8 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by changingseasons View Post



Quote:
Originally Posted by HollyBearsMom View Post

disagree that your church needs to go nut free just because your child has developed an allergy.  It  It does not make any sense to me. FTR, I also don't agree with the school policies either.




bigeyes.gif Wow. You obviously don't have a child with a peanut allergy, I'm guessing. I agree that no one can completely meet the allergy needs of every allergic child out there, but peanuts/tree nut are THE #1 FATAL allergic reaction in children. A child with celiac who gets some cross-contamination or direct exposure might get really sick, but isn't going to die. A kid who gets touched by a toddler with peanut butter on their fingers MIGHT. It's not even a comparable situation.

I certainly don't expect everyone around us to conform to DD's diet and all her allergens, but I do think a nut-free policy makes sense for an organization that is trying to serve families on a regular basis like a church or school. Peanut/tree nut allergies are common enough and dangerous enough that people need to be aware of them. I do agree that parents and children need to be aware of their allergies and not to share other people's food, but that's kind of difficult to explain to an infant or young toddler, which is why caregivers need to be aware. And rather than making a caregiver responsible for a life-threatening situation, why not just made the group nut free?

Why does it bother you anyway? There are about a million different foods that you can send with your kid to school or church. I'm not sure why parents get so defensive about it, like it's such a major inconvenience to them. Who cares about the other kids who might get seriously injured or DIE... it's more important that your kid can eat a pb&j sandwich. irked.gif

OP- you might check out the Kids with Food Allergies website- I'm pretty sure they have some resources about dealing with schools/organizations in regard to allergies.


Actually I "take care of one" loveeyes.gif so I live it every day.  so don't assume it because I want my bio-child to be able to eat a peanut butter sandwhich. disappointed.gif

 

And where did I say it bothered me?  I said I don't *agree* it with it.  I think it fosters a false sense of security. Trust me I have seen moms running back to their car or or scrambling to get their purses because they didn't have their epi pen at the ready. The reason?? "How did this happen?? This is a peanut free play area! This is a nut free building! "

 

And I deal with enough parents who send in treats to school that are not on the "safe" list, who feed their kids peanut butter sandwiches in the car on the way to school and don't have them wipe/wash their hands, who send peanut butter granola bars in their kids back pack for "later" only for a teacher to find the student eating them in the hallway or on the playground. shrug.gif

 

So I don't agree with forcing an entire organization going nut free. I especially don't see how the *whole* church needs to be nut free because your child is allergic.  Why not a nut free snack table in the SS? Easy to monitor, easy to sanitize.  Why not do a training for the children in the SS on what the allergy means and proper hand washing techniques?

 

There is SO much more that you can do then just ban peanuts and think everything will be OK. Plus as other posters noted you can't ban peanuts everywhere.  How will deal with trip to the mall, a play date at a friends? You will plan ahead, you will take precautions, you will talk to other parents, you will teach your child.

 

edited to take out some confidential info!


Edited by HollyBearsMom - 12/1/10 at 5:30am
post #9 of 34

Peanut Safe means Peanut Smart. Maybe you can approach a "change" be made from that stand point, rather than a "policy" stand point.  People who do not have a child or family member with a severe LIFE THREATENING allergy do not fully understand. The ones who "take care of one" do not fully understand. Therefore, it is the parents job to educate and monitor each and every situation outside the home. 

 

Start with a conversation, perhaps some literature on the DANGER that surrounds children with peanut allergies. 

 

Good luck! 

post #10 of 34

 


"There is SO much more that you can do then just ban peanuts and think everything will be OK. Plus as other posters noted you can't ban peanuts everywhere.  How will deal with trip to the mall, a play date at a friends? You will plan ahead, you will take precautions, you will talk to other parents, you will teach your child."

 

I really don't think that is the attitude on this thread. Limiting exposure, when there are a large number of small children, supervised by their non-primary caregiver(s), however, does make sense. 


Your other examples are not relevant to the OP's situation.  

post #11 of 34

We went everywhere with my son until I was sure that he was old enough to understand not to eat anything anyone gave him and not to put his hands in his mouth. I can't see leaving a child personally unless I knew the SS teacher, etc. knew how and when to use an epi pen (without hesitation).

 

This is partly because I left once and came back to my son sitting with a plate of "chex mix" they told him had no nuts (they knew of his allergy and had been told no food without my permission). The other kids had nuts in their mixes. I asked. They picked out the nuts. I never left him alone again until he was much older.

 

I don't think it's at all unreasonable to ask a church not to serve peanut/tree nut products in class. Why do kids need snacks at church anyway--let alone candy bars? However, I do think there is always risk because any given child may have just finished a pb sandwich in the car on the way to church.

 

I wish our culture didn't seem to need food for every single event.

 

WuWei, does the parent know about your heavy use of nuts? (curious question: what do you do to make them more digestible--do you soak? I'm just surprised in reading because I always though nuts were pretty potent mineral absorption blockers?) Anyway, if her child is older and not contact/air/etc. reactive she might feel it's safe enough but I do think she needs to know. My son is very good about this stuff and not air reactive but I think what you describe would give me pause.

post #12 of 34

I agree with the poster who says it is not right to try and dictate to an entire church that they must be peanut free. It's impossible to control if people in the church bring nuts or have nut residue or dust on them, same as in any public setting. I think it would, however, be very appropriate to ask the church to make announcements, send emails, put in the bulletin, spread by word of mouth that there is a child in the congregation with a severe peanut allergy and it would be wonderful if everyone could assist in keeping the child safe. I've found that people are often happy to change if you ask but are very resistant if you force it on them. You'll still have to watch your child like a hawk as you would even if there was a ban. I know if my church asked this I would be happy to not bring anything with nuts to church (not like I do now anyway) but if there was a 'ban' I would be really annoyed and would likely find myself not participating in as many things since I wouldn't want to bother checking for peanuts first - do you really want to do this to people? Can't you take responsibility for your own child and not put the pressure on others? Do you call ahead to malls when you have shopping to do to ask that they not allow anyone in who has peanuts with them? Do you require the sale of peanut butter cups to be halted when you go to the movies? Do you expect people eating out in the same place you are to refrain from ordering meals containing peanuts? Of course not, because it's your child and your responsibility to keep him safe.

 

I'm also wondering about something else. You say your son was eating chex mix that had peanuts in it that were picked out and he was ok. It doesn't sound like he's so allergic that he cannot be in the same building as peanuts.

post #13 of 34

I am really sorry if this is me being snotty but I just have to say this...


If you don't have a kid with allergies, please don't post "Why ban peanut" talk to Mom's who are doing daily battle to keep our kids safe.  It is not the place.  You may have to alter what you send your kid to school/SS with but we are trying to keep our children healthy.  No, we can not tell what people are eating on the way to school or hiding in backpacks and it's sad that some parents just don't care that they are putting other kids at risk.  Really sad. 

 

I DO expect people I am out to eat with to not order things with nuts in it if my DS/DD are there.  100% expect it.  I leave a home where someone offers a PB sandwich to a kid.  I have enough to do to try and keep my kids safe that asking a place to not serve nuts (if it is a place my kid will always be) is not out of line AT ALL.  BTW, my kid also has Celiacs.  I don't want him to eat anything with gluten in it but it will make him sick, not potentially kill him.  So no, I don't expect them to outlaw everything he's allergic to but the #1 fatal allergen?  Yes, yes I do.

post #14 of 34

I agree, the original post was (probably) targeting parents who have a child/ren with a peanut allergy. The ones who live it each and every day. 

post #15 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by elus0814 View Post

 

I'm also wondering about something else. You say your son was eating chex mix that had peanuts in it that were picked out and he was ok. It doesn't sound like he's so allergic that he cannot be in the same building as peanuts.


Just for the record, the poster whose child had the chex mix was NOT the OP. They're two different people, and the OP's child it sounds like has reactions to allergens in the air, whereas the Chex Mix poster's child has eaten-only reactions. 

 

As a parent without allergic children, I think you will get better response/compliance from the other parents if you make an effort to let them know that your child, who is attending thus and such event, or when he/she is old enough, is in their child's Sunday School, is actually allergic. While I try to be sensitive to allergies, as vegetarians who eat a lot of nuts, I am less vigilant for generic "peanut-free" schools where no one may actually be allergic, it's just a long-standing policy. If I know a friend's child is allergic, or there's an allergic child in my child's class or group, then I will happily go to the effort to check snacks and cross-contamination (no pb or nuts the day we go to that event, etc.) 

post #16 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by elus0814 View Post

I agree with the poster who says it is not right to try and dictate to an entire church that they must be peanut free. It's impossible to control if people in the church bring nuts or have nut residue or dust on them, same as in any public setting.


Nobody, anywhere in this thread was saying that people need to be banned from eating nuts or bringing nut dust in with them on their clothing. The OP was about asking the church NOT TO SERVE SNACKS with nuts in them. Why on earth do you think that's such an unreasonable request?! If you were concerned about your child ingesting nasty food preservatives, dyes, or HFCS, do you think it might be reasonable to ask the church to serve more healthy snacks, IF they need to serve snacks at all? I think that is a totally reasonable request. And that's just a preference, nothing to do with a potentially deadly product.
Quote:
Can't you take responsibility for your own child and not put the pressure on others?

Yes- DON'T SERVE MY CHILD FOOD, and you have no responsibility. But if you're going to take the responsibility for watching my child AND feeding them (when you haven't been asked to feed them, as in the OP's case), then you damn well better be educated about something that may kill them.
eta: I'm editing to add that obviously (since this point isn't coming across apparently), I would be educating that person; I don't expect them to just know these things. But that's the point of this thread- how to educate the caregivers so that they CAN take care of a child with health issues responsibly.
Edited by changingseasons - 12/3/10 at 10:53pm
post #17 of 34

 

 

Quote:
but if there was a 'ban' I would be really annoyed and would likely find myself not participating in as many things since I wouldn't want to bother checking for peanuts first - do you really want to do this to people? Can't you take responsibility for your own child and not put the pressure on others? Do you call ahead to malls when you have shopping to do to ask that they not allow anyone in who has peanuts with them? Do you require the sale of peanut butter cups to be halted when you go to the movies? Do you expect people eating out in the same place you are to refrain from ordering meals containing peanuts? 

 

 

I just wanted to address this.... in a non-confrontational way.  The quote expresses sentiment/questions of many people.  

 

What I will say, being the mother of three food allergic children, is that while others may be annoyed at a ban, participating less because they were asked not to bring nuts, we are forced many times to not participate at all not because we are annoyed, but because we want to keep our children alive, or without ending up having a reaction and then having kids drugged up on antihistamines all day and night.

 

Many of us parents who deal with food allergies every day do take responsibility for our children, their allergies, and it's management.  We also take the responsibility of knowing that a random, miniscule piece of common, prevalent, food, that tons of children eat, and usually don't clean off their hands and faces off after eating it, could kill our children in under 5 minutes.  We also carry the responsibility of knowing that instead of having a carefree childhood, we will have to teach our children that they could die, easily, quickly, and because other people place food (and many times it is snack foods) as a higher priority.  

 

We don't call malls, because there aren't people trying to feed our children there without our permission.  They are under our direct care, not confined in a single room for an extended period of time, and there is the ability for a quick exit should one exist, among other things.

 

We don't go to movies, at least our family doesn't, because we can't.  It isn't safe.  When people wipe their hands on seats, drop their food on the floor, and otherwise could be surrounding our children with foods containing their allergen, in the dark, without giving us the ability to see the early warning signs of anaphylaxis, it doesn't even allow for the possibility.

 

And lastly, we don't ask anyone eating in the same place not to order anything, because at this point, we have almost no places to go that are safe for my family.

 

So, while I can understand the imposition that people get riled over, the worst offense to me, is that in a church, a person couldn't find refuge from the judgement and hostility that many of us families living with food allergies face every single day.  Directed at our children.  Because of food. 

 

Asking that sunday school rooms, especially a nursery, be nut free, for the 1 or 2 hours that children are there during services, seems like a very small thing to ask of a community that is supposed to be there to come together for worship and community.

 

People could gorge themselves all they want on as many peanutty foods as they could stand after...... when parents are there..... and, yes, when they are there to take responsibility.  To be sure that their child isn't eating something they shouldn't, and that nobody is giving them something they shouldn't either.

 

And, for me personally, it would be refreshing if all the people who get so offended and indignant about not eating something, for some short amount of time, in order to keep a child safe, could stop for a moment.  I wish they would think about that child.  Put themselves in the shoes of a child.  Think about how a child would feel knowing people were mad at them, hostile to them, were angry because someone asked them not to eat nuts or another allergen...... think about the burden a child carries knowing they could end up in a hospital, or dead, and then knowing they are somehow supposed to disregard that in order to appease someone's need to eat nuts?

 

Usually too, when parents are asking for things to be nut free, it is in situations that aren't true impositions.  Snacks at a church aren't necessary to sustain life.  It certainly wouldn't kill anyone to forego eating nuts at church, but it might just save a life. 

post #18 of 34

As a mom of 2 children who are not nut allergic, but who do have food intolerances, I would have NO problem not having nuts of any kind in a public place where a nut allergic child is present (this was the case in my DD's classroom last year).  For me, it's a no brainer - I/we won't suffer going without nuts, but it could save a family from having to worry as much at a social/public event. 

 

To FAmom and CS - your comments are well said; they are and should be thought-provoking for all who don't walk in your shoes daily.

post #19 of 34

To the OP,

First, I can completely relate to how you are feeling, especially when you first find out about this, you just feel scared and you just want to keep your child safe.  For me, I just felt, when they are so young and might not even really be able to identify or verbalize to you that they are having symptoms, I just basically never left my child anywhere without me or a trusted family member who knew exactly what the seriousness of it is.  We've had wonderful, marvelous, responsible babysitters, but at that age, they just came to our peanut-free house.  I always tell anyone to please not bring any peanuts in my car, to my house, etc, and whenever we go anywhere in a group activity, I just tell everyone that my child has a peanut allergy, ask if anyone brought anything with peanuts, and if they did, could you please be sure you wash hands afterwards.  Actually most of the time when we are going somewhere in a group, everyone is so kind and helpful and most of the people just volunteer that they wont bring anything with peanuts.  As my child gets older and can verbalize better when something feels weird in his body, I am sure I will go through a huge transition as he goes out into the world without a trusted adult.  But for now, the reality is that he cannot be responsible for this issue himself until he is much, much older, and so it is my job to be sure that either I am there, or someone else who would know what to do is.

 

post #20 of 34

 

 

Quote:
The ones who "take care of one" do not fully understand. Therefore, it is the parents job to educate and monitor each and every situation outside the home. 

So since the child is not my bio-child, I can't understand?  Even though this child lives as if she is my own and has never known another mother I can't understand? I am the one  rocks her to sleep, takes care of he when she is sick, who deals with her school and her SW and yes who deals with her "LIFE THREATENING" allergy everyday. Oh yeah but I guess I just don't get it.shrug.gif I swear the bias against foster/step/adoptive moms is unreal.

 

Since I took this child in at 14 months I had to have a crash course in allergies and the one thing that I learned above everything else is the knee jerk reaction parent have when *their* child is diagnosed-ban peanuts and nuts. 

 

The OP's child  not even in SS school yet but she not only wants to ban nuts in he school area but in the *entire* church. And she is angry that not everyone has jumped on her bandwagon.  Can a nut ban help limit exposure?  Of course but I still don't agree with it.  It is a false sense of security. Why not spend the time until she is ready for Sunday school setting a system that works for all children?

 

perfect example is the chex mix.  That is the stuff you deal with all the time. According to the poster the adults knew the child had a peanut allergy but they still thought it was OK to pick out the nuts.  And the poster had no qualms about leaving her child. I see this with many moms.  They have no problem letting their child play in nut free play area, give them free reign in nut free classrooms/buildings with out doing any due diligence. Then they are shock when their child suddenly has as a severe reaction and they are not prepared.

 

Banning nuts is not the only answer, you need to EDUCATE what exactly it means. I am now at a point where all the volunteers in our church's nursery and Sunday school know me and know my child. At the start of the each season I meet with the volunteers, I update the safe lists for those interested (and so many are! the kids especially talk about bringing nut free treats for L! love.gif) I make sure the extra epipen has not expired and the church has me teach a couple of classes for the students so they understand the importance of hand washing, I follow up every few months. We have been part of this church for years with out a single issue. Has it taken more of my time, energy and dedication yes, but I believe my child is safe by me doing so then if they had just banned the nuts.

 

 

So I stand by the fact that I don't agree with nut bans.  I have nothing against them if that what an organization choose. Our school is nut free and is what I would consider pretty strict  However it is the only place my child has twice had allergic reactions.  Each time due to the ignorance of the other parents who don't follow the "rules" and the teachers who assume that since they said no nuts there are no nuts on campus. I have been spending the last 2 years working with the PA and school reps on education for the students.  I find that they are much more receptive on learning about prevention and education then the parents.

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