1st time packing lunches - what do you pack - Uh Oh, just found out there is a nut allergy... - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 34 Old 07-24-2008, 01:51 PM - Thread Starter
 
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My kids are starting Kindergarten and 1st grade today This is their first time going to school longer than 3 hours so, I have to pack a lunch. The teacher asks that it be a completely independent snack/lunch as she will be working with one group while the other has their snack/lunch and won't be able to assist with opening and unwrapping.

So, what do you pack for lunches? They won't have refrigerators so whatever I pack has to be able to be in a lunch box but not a fridge for a few hours.

Uh Oh, I just got a letter home that two children in her class have a peanut/tree nut allergy. They really needed to let us know that yesterday! I sent her with a peanut butter and Jelly sandwich today I didn't know

So, now I need peanut/tree nut free ideas. I guess things without peanuts can be processed with peanuts??? Holy smokes. This scares me
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#2 of 34 Old 07-24-2008, 02:38 PM
 
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We use a Thermos container for a "hot" lunch, so you can send mac n cheese or leftovers with them. We also have an ice pack that keeps food or milk cold until lunch time. Also, check out www.laptoplunches.com for some good ideas. I highly recommend the lunch ideas there.

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#3 of 34 Old 07-24-2008, 02:41 PM
 
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I keep it simple and pack a half sandwich, sliced apple/pear other fruit they like, maybe a cookie, some veggies like celery/carrot/cucumber with dip if they like that.

I use small Tupperware containers for what I can and baggies for the rest. Sandwich boxes just didn't work.

I give water in a thermos, a juice box once in a while for a treat.

There are some great sites with lunch box ideas, try googling bento box lunch for some cool ones.

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#4 of 34 Old 07-24-2008, 02:51 PM
 
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I use a thermos cooler, they have some smaller one, and with an ice pack it stays cold until lunch. (they have to at her school since lunches are kept outside and squirrels can get into any other lunch container, but it is helpful.)

you can do the normal meal
half sandwich, fruit, drink, and a dairy or something like cheese or yogurt.

We do hot lunch with a thermos and send dinner left overs a lot. (they have very cool thermos's that are shaped like a bowl and include a spoon.)

We also do things like
pieces of meat (salami, bits of chicken or turkey, etc.)
spinach rolls (wrap a spinach leaf around a bit of feta cheese.)
carrots and ranch
homemade bread or muffins
hard boiled eggs
apples and peanut butter


The key is to get out of the brown bag mentality. It took me awhile. The whole sandwich, snack, healthy item. Dh still has trouble with it.

If you feed it to your kids at home, then find a way to send it to school.

Oh and we use little glass SYFO (it's fizzy water, i get the little bottles from my neighbor who drinks them) bottles for her drinks. They are the perfect size, don't break easily, you can wash them, and use them a million times. Check with your school they might not allow glass containers.
I also use old jars to put her food in, and in absence of that I use plastic tupperware.

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#5 of 34 Old 07-24-2008, 04:04 PM
 
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My blog (in my sig) is largely about what food my kids bring to school. It's a little slow in the summer though. But I'll also be packing lunch for a kindergartener this fall, in addition to 2 in preschool.
Some other great sources for lunch ideas:
http://lunchinabox.net/
http://veganlunchbox.blogspot.com/ (check in the archives for her son's lunches)
http://flickr.com/groups/kideats/

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#6 of 34 Old 07-24-2008, 09:40 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you all for the thoughts!

I sent her with peanut butter and Jelly sandwich today and do you know, I got a letter home saying there was a child with a peanut allergy so all peanut and tree nut items are banned!
UMMMM!!!!! YOU SHOULD HAVE TOLD ME THAT YESTERDAY!!!! I had no idea!!!

Oh and the best part? They provided a list of acceptable foods which includes: oreos, fritos, cheese nips/puffs, twizlers, marshmallow fluff etc..... Yeah, I don't think so.
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#7 of 34 Old 07-24-2008, 09:57 PM
 
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(they have very cool thermos's that are shaped like a bowl and include a spoon.)
Where did you get these? I'd love a link if you have one (or the name so I can google). Thanks!
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#8 of 34 Old 07-24-2008, 10:16 PM
 
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My kids love freeze dried fruit and veggies, from Just Tomatoes.
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#9 of 34 Old 07-25-2008, 08:31 AM
 
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Oh and the best part? They provided a list of acceptable foods which includes: oreos, fritos, cheese nips/puffs, twizlers, marshmallow fluff etc..... Yeah, I don't think so.
OY, that's hideous.
Yeah, my boys' preschool is completely nut-free, as are many these days. I haven't heard about his kindergarten class yet, but there is usually one of the four classes that is nut-free and we'll find out at the beginning of school...I'm crossing my fingers we don't end up with the nut-free class, it really limits things for vegetarians!

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#10 of 34 Old 07-25-2008, 05:02 PM
 
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OY, that's hideous.
Yeah, my boys' preschool is completely nut-free, as are many these days. I haven't heard about his kindergarten class yet, but there is usually one of the four classes that is nut-free and we'll find out at the beginning of school...I'm crossing my fingers we don't end up with the nut-free class, it really limits things for vegetarians!
This is my one issue with requiring entire classrooms/schools to be nut-free. For children who can eat just about anything, it isn't so inconvenient, but if you're a vegetarian, or especially a vegan. Or if you have a dairy allergy, or if you're child has sensory issues and will only eat a very limited diet to begin with, then a child may really need the protein that nuts/nut butter would provide. Not such a big deal for a child who attends 2 OR 3 day a week at a half day preschool, but for a child who spends 5 full days a week away from home I feel that they have a right to good nutrition. And frankly only in really extreme cases can a child not be in the same room as the allergen. It usually is just a matter of needing better supervision during snack/lunch. I mean if a child absolutely can't be around it at all, than you do what you have to do. But I worked at an afterschool day care once where if there was one child (out of 100) who had an allergy to anything than no one could have it for lunch or snack etc. (this included teachers who ate lunch separately away from the children). And at a preschool I once worked at we tried to only buy snacks that no child was allergic to. One year we had so many allergies from different kids (corn, soy, dairy, wheat, strawberries, oranges, mangos, blueberries and others I can't remember off the top of my head) there was nothing left of the original snacks that we could serve. So we just decided we had to monitor snack really well so children didn't eat what they were allergic to. Any way sorry I got off topic its just an issue that fascinates me.

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#11 of 34 Old 07-25-2008, 06:13 PM
 
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We have the hot thermos, but in my experience most kindergarteners cannot open it by themselves.

My kids eat dairy and a little meat and I have one EXTREMELY picky eater, but here are some things they like:

Soup
Chili
Ravioli
Homemade muffins/bread etc that have some kind of fruit/veggie componant usually hidden like banana muffins, or carrot bread etc.
Green Salad (they have containers that let the kids add the dressing right before they eat it!)
Whole Grain Bagels (with cream cheese, though my oldest eats them plain)
Cut up cheese cubes, whole grain crackers, turkey cubed
chips & salsa
Yogurt with toppings (like wheat germ)


Then we always have at least 1 fruit and 1 veggie in there with the carbs/protein.

For drinks we just do water in the Sigg bottles.

And for my picky oldest daughter, I often just do little bits of this and little bits of that, and I always try to have homemade cookies to pop in their, like oatmeal raisin etc. When she gets picky I have her walk over to the fridge and start packing her lunch with me directing to make sure she has a variety of whole foods. (This child has sensory issues and eats a few things I'd rather she didn't like ravioli, but she also has trouble keeping weight on so we compromise.)

The nut allergy is annoying. I'm allergic to a few nuts and know how scary it is, but honestly I don't think it's right to ban 22 kids from having nut butters for the sake of 1 other kid. There is no way to know that a few of the kids didn't have peanut butter toast on the way to school and have a smear here or there, that's just as dangerous. So I sympathize.

We had a nut allergy in my kindergarteners class last year, but our kindergarteners here don't eat lunch at school.
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#12 of 34 Old 07-26-2008, 06:51 PM
 
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Where did you get these? I'd love a link if you have one (or the name so I can google). Thanks!
I bouhgt ours at Target, I got the cheaper one for $6., but they have more expensive ones too. Some have an eating utensil some don't. Looking for a link, but i had 139 hits on thermos at target. They were in the aisle with lunchboxes. (where they normally are, and in the seosaonal section that has school stuff right now.)

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#13 of 34 Old 07-26-2008, 07:17 PM - Thread Starter
 
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This is my one issue with requiring entire classrooms/schools to be nut-free. For children who can eat just about anything, it isn't so inconvenient, but if you're a vegetarian, or especially a vegan. Or if you have a dairy allergy, or if you're child has sensory issues and will only eat a very limited diet to begin with, then a child may really need the protein that nuts/nut butter would provide. Not such a big deal for a child who attends 2 OR 3 day a week at a half day preschool, but for a child who spends 5 full days a week away from home I feel that they have a right to good nutrition. And frankly only in really extreme cases can a child not be in the same room as the allergen. It usually is just a matter of needing better supervision during snack/lunch. I mean if a child absolutely can't be around it at all, than you do what you have to do. But I worked at an afterschool day care once where if there was one child (out of 100) who had an allergy to anything than no one could have it for lunch or snack etc. (this included teachers who ate lunch separately away from the children). And at a preschool I once worked at we tried to only buy snacks that no child was allergic to. One year we had so many allergies from different kids (corn, soy, dairy, wheat, strawberries, oranges, mangos, blueberries and others I can't remember off the top of my head) there was nothing left of the original snacks that we could serve. So we just decided we had to monitor snack really well so children didn't eat what they were allergic to. Any way sorry I got off topic its just an issue that fascinates me.

Well, I don't deal with allergy issue in our family - thank heavens! But, I can't imagine if my child had an allergy that could kill them that I would trust my child's life to the parents of 200 other children (multiple classes transition through this one child's classroom).

Parents make mistakes. I pray that every parent will always have this allergy in the forefront of their minds but, when you're in a hurry you may not think to check the box to make sure every single item you're packing hasn't been processed in a facility with nuts.

I just can't imagine leaving so much to chance with my child's health and life. Personally I wouldn't have a child in school with such an issue but, that's just me.
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#14 of 34 Old 07-26-2008, 09:05 PM
 
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I was just reading out Bento boxes last night on the web trying to figure out some neat meals to send for my 1st grader that isn't just sandwich based... skipped around a bit on sites but I've got it in my head to try and plan meals that are divided out into

3 parts grain/carbs
2 part veggies
1 part meat or protein
and then have fruit for his snack which will be at a seperate time.

I'll send water in his bottle and let him get a milk from the cafeteria if he wants and also eat breakfast at school (they do serve both breakfast and lunch, but it's just the 'healthy' foods are not so healthy in my mind.... for b-fast the things they serve may not be the best, butam having him eat here at 6am or there at 8am... that's my big decideing point.)

I saw some insulated bags but didn't know how easy they would be to open for him...

I learned last year when I would send ready made snacks for him in the little packs from the store that I would preopen the end then clear tape it back closed because he couldn't 'get the package open' unless I did that. the one reusable conainer I got he couldn't open either by himself so it stayed home (his teacher was there for snack-time but with 12-14 other kids possibly asking for help to open theirs too I'm sure it helped her just a little bit) we practiced things at home and if he could get into by himself then it went to school

for keeping things cold in the pack what about freezing things like berries/fruit and using them as eatable ice packs (something else I gleaned from last night's search)... what else could you use?
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#15 of 34 Old 07-27-2008, 09:13 AM
 
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We eat Sunbutter instead of peanut butter. My ds is allergic to peanuts. I wish people understood how scary it is to live with and that sometimes homeschooling isn't an option. There are great alternatives to peanut butter these days.
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#16 of 34 Old 07-27-2008, 09:23 AM
 
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We eat Sunbutter instead of peanut butter. My ds is allergic to peanuts. I wish people understood how scary it is to live with and that sometimes homeschooling isn't an option. There are great alternatives to peanut butter these days.
Sunbutter is so much more healthy than peanut butter anyway.

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#17 of 34 Old 07-27-2008, 09:27 AM
 
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I sent her with peanut butter and Jelly sandwich today and do you know, I got a letter home saying there was a child with a peanut allergy so all peanut and tree nut items are banned!
UMMMM!!!!! YOU SHOULD HAVE TOLD ME THAT YESTERDAY!!!! I had no idea!!!

Oh and the best part? They provided a list of acceptable foods which includes: oreos, fritos, cheese nips/puffs, twizlers, marshmallow fluff etc..... Yeah, I don't think so.
Yeah -- sometimes by the time the school reviews all the medical information and then gets that info. to the teachers and the teachers get it out to the parents, there is a definite time lapse.

And you definitely don't need to provide the junky food that they've identified as acceptable alternatives. Plenty of veggies and fruit are naturally nut-free.

Laura - Mom to ds (10) and dd (7) "Time stands still best in moments that look suspiciously like ordinary life." Brian Andreas.

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#18 of 34 Old 07-27-2008, 01:28 PM
 
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We eat Sunbutter instead of peanut butter. My ds is allergic to peanuts. I wish people understood how scary it is to live with and that sometimes homeschooling isn't an option. There are great alternatives to peanut butter these days.
I was also going to suggest Sunbutter. We like the one form Trader Joes. I am so glad we don't have allergies. It is so scary. I really feel for family that do.

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#19 of 34 Old 07-27-2008, 05:21 PM
 
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This is my one issue with requiring entire classrooms/schools to be nut-free. For children who can eat just about anything, it isn't so inconvenient, but if you're a vegetarian, or especially a vegan. Or if you have a dairy allergy, or if you're child has sensory issues and will only eat a very limited diet to begin with, then a child may really need the protein that nuts/nut butter would provide. Not such a big deal for a child who attends 2 OR 3 day a week at a half day preschool, but for a child who spends 5 full days a week away from home I feel that they have a right to good nutrition. And frankly only in really extreme cases can a child not be in the same room as the allergen. It usually is just a matter of needing better supervision during snack/lunch. I mean if a child absolutely can't be around it at all, than you do what you have to do.
Even for a child who can be in the same room with an allergen, being around 20 other students that may have eaten peanuts (or whatever allergen) can be risky. Have you ever tried to get 20 kids to wash their hands (thoroughly with soap and water) in less than 5 minutes, with only a couple of sinks?

I have a child who is extremely allergic to nuts. He can be in the same room with them, but he's extremely sensitive to the trace oils and proteins.

Being vegetarian or vegan is a choice, having a life threatening food allergy is not. Vegetarians and vegans have other options for protein than peanuts or tree nuts. Sure a peanut butter sandwich is much faster and easier than the other options, but it's by far not the only option.

My daughter is dairy and peanut/tree nut allergic. She's starting first grade next month and it'll be her first year eating in the cafeteria. Should be interesting.
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#20 of 34 Old 07-31-2008, 01:17 PM
 
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Even for a child who can be in the same room with an allergen, being around 20 other students that may have eaten peanuts (or whatever allergen) can be risky. Have you ever tried to get 20 kids to wash their hands (thoroughly with soap and water) in less than 5 minutes, with only a couple of sinks?

I have a child who is extremely allergic to nuts. He can be in the same room with them, but he's extremely sensitive to the trace oils and proteins.

Being vegetarian or vegan is a choice, having a life threatening food allergy is not. Vegetarians and vegans have other options for protein than peanuts or tree nuts. Sure a peanut butter sandwich is much faster and easier than the other options, but it's by far not the only option.

My daughter is dairy and peanut/tree nut allergic. She's starting first grade next month and it'll be her first year eating in the cafeteria. Should be interesting.

Thanks for sharing this. My DS is extremely allergic and has contact reactions to any food residue on tables, hands etc. (egg & nut allergic but his egg allergy is the worst). His preschool made his room egg/nut free and the kids used Wet Ones wipes to clean their hands when they came into school in the morning (couldnt use the sink b/c it was on a different floor). We are trying to work out his 504 plan for kindy now....ugh

Anyway, to the OP....there are lots of things that can work for snacks and lunches.....and you are lucky b/c you can do eggy things! lol
Instead of PB we do soy butter (its pretty much the only soy DS gets in his diet so Im not too worried about it--we don't do sunbutter b/c its a seed and we are avoiding..may trial later). As someone else posted, instead of the typical "brown bag lunch" you can do a lot of snacky/finger food things like chunks of fruit/veggies/cheese with yogurt or dip, mini roll ups on lettuce or tortillas, noodles, bread w/some mashed up raspberries or jam, muffins etc. We don't usually do hot food b/c we can't get the thermos to keep them hot enough, but that's another option. We do use cold packs and that helps a lot. Also, a lot of the traditional bento foods don't need refrigeration so if you are into trying those, that may work for you
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#21 of 34 Old 07-31-2008, 03:35 PM
 
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I was going to post about Sunbutter -glad to see so many mention it!

My son also has mulitple food allergies - reacting on contact to peanuts and soy. It is terrifying to watch any child break out in hives, facial swelling, and start wheezing after something as simple as playing on a slide at the park or playing with another child's toy or hugging a new friend. It is even more horrifying and heartbreakign when that child is your own.
I agree with one of the PP - vegan or veg. are lifestyle choices. Having my child run the risk of death just by playing with other kids or going to public places - that is not a choice. It is not that we want to deprive your kids of anything - we just want our own child to be safe and to engage in normal kid activities like getting an education in a real school. If I did not take him anywhere that I thought he might be exposed to soy or peanuts - we'd never ever leave the house. But I am there with him with benadryl and 2 Epipens ready to ward off possible dangers, recognize the early warning signs, ask playmates questions to ensure it is "safe" - that is not possible in a school setting. Being nut free isnt going to fully protect a child, but it does reduce the risk of exposure.

Back to the lunch issue - There are some great thin ice packs you can put into the lunch box to keep things cold. Some stuff that is precooked can be frozen or partially frozen depending on when they are having lunch - Like I make homemade nuggets, fully cooked, and freeze them for convenience cooking. I will pull them out of the freezer and throw them in the dipe bag or whatever, by lunch time they are defrosted and ready to eat. But we don't mind eating them cold/room temp.

Water bottles, juice boxes, etc can be frozen then night before too - Then it is a cold drink AND acts as a icepack to keep the lunch cold.

Fruit and veggies are great - the little snack baggies if your kid can open those themselves or maybe some of the tiny tupperware/gladware. I found little round ones that are perfect snack size. Good size for veggie dips too!

Some snacks I loved in my lunchbox as a kid and often pack now for our lunches out or my meal for when I am working...

Apples and peanut butter (sub in the sunbutter - a few drops of lemon juice onteh apples prevents browning)
Fruit slices of basically any fruit
Fruit salad
Grapes or raisins (just tomatoes makes LOTS of dehyd. fruit and veggies to choose from and they are yummy!)
carrots, celery, raw broccoli, etc
Crackers and cheese slices or cubes (you can buy them precubed or DYI from a big block)
Cream Cheese and Jelly sandwiches were a big alternative to PB&J in our house.
Chicken salad, tuna salad, egg salad etc sandwiches (pack an icepack with those though)
Spinach dip and pump. bread - Yum!
Homemade muffins
Half a bagel with cream cheese or sunbutter
Cheese sandwiches
Hard boiled eggs
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#22 of 34 Old 07-31-2008, 03:57 PM
 
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#23 of 34 Old 07-31-2008, 11:57 PM
 
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I dont know what I would do. The only thing my daughter will eat is peanut butter sandwiches (she has some sensory issues) and apples, raisens,milk.
I dont have a whole foods anywhere near me to get sunbutter. So my child would be forced to starve.
I understand when a child has an allergy that you must be careful but at the same time - telling me to starve my child because of another child's allergy isn't very fair either. Or telling me to send nutritionally defunct food isn't fair either.
They need to come up with a better way. I would have my daughter moved out of the class.

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#24 of 34 Old 08-01-2008, 12:07 AM
 
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My DS was in a nut-free classroom for a year and it was hard, as he was such a peanut-butter fan, and also vegetarian. We ended up subbing lots of cheese quesadillas but he did get tired of those.

I am a teacher and had a student with a peanut allergy. The nurse and student thought it would be best to reassign this student to another activity when we needed to use peanut butter (for a science lab). Then the student got all bent out of shape about not being included after the fact, even though he was involved in the decision making up front. I am just making my classroom peanut-free all the time after this incident.
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#25 of 34 Old 08-01-2008, 01:22 AM
 
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I dont know what I would do. The only thing my daughter will eat is peanut butter sandwiches (she has some sensory issues) and apples, raisens,milk.
I dont have a whole foods anywhere near me to get sunbutter. So my child would be forced to starve.
I understand when a child has an allergy that you must be careful but at the same time - telling me to starve my child because of another child's allergy isn't very fair either. Or telling me to send nutritionally defunct food isn't fair either.
They need to come up with a better way. I would have my daughter moved out of the class.
check your regular grocery store for Sunbutter...Ive seen it at my Acme
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#26 of 34 Old 08-01-2008, 12:18 PM
 
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There were kids in my DD's class last year that had allergies and the other kids in class could still have nuts and other foods they wanted.

There was one boy in her class that had an allergy to nuts, chocolate and dairy products. Most kids brought in yogurt each day or had milk in the cafeteria. I would think there's no way to avoid it.

Did the teacher specify that the other children couldn't bring in PB&J sandwiches? I'd check with her first. Maybe she just wanted to let other parents know so they would be careful. That's a staple item for most kids in school. They had it on the daily lunch menu at my kids school last year.

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#27 of 34 Old 08-01-2008, 01:25 PM
 
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while i'll restrict my opinion on this... i also wanted to suggest Golden peabutter... i use to work with another mom who children were SEVERLY allergic (cant even have any tree/nuts or butter in their home.. no products made on same equipment, etc) and told me about it before.

http://www.peabutter.ca/

as far as keeping kids who are allergic safe, and keeping healthy options available for kids (esp those who may have few limited food options)... i'll refrain

~Kris mama to Alexis (15), Elizabeth (10), Andrew (7), and 1 angel
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#28 of 34 Old 08-01-2008, 03:56 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Authentic_Mother View Post
I dont know what I would do. The only thing my daughter will eat is peanut butter sandwiches (she has some sensory issues) and apples, raisens,milk.
I dont have a whole foods anywhere near me to get sunbutter. So my child would be forced to starve.
I understand when a child has an allergy that you must be careful but at the same time - telling me to starve my child because of another child's allergy isn't very fair either. Or telling me to send nutritionally defunct food isn't fair either.
They need to come up with a better way. I would have my daughter moved out of the class.
Are those the only things she'll eat ever, or for lunch?

In extreme circumstances like that, I'm sure that most schools would try to work something out.

Heck, if I was the one asking for the peanut free classroom and knew about your situation, I'd probably provide you with sunbutter or soy nut butter myself.

I don't enjoy it when my children's allergies are an inconvenience to others, but we're talking life or death here, not just bad nutrition.
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#29 of 34 Old 08-01-2008, 04:40 PM - Thread Starter
 
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WC - this is what terrifies me. I will do my absolute best to make sure that I never send a product with peanuts or one that was made in a facility that processes tree nuts but, when you're relying on 200 other parents for the life of your child, well, it just scares me

I did find sun butter and my kids are fine with it but at almost $4 a jar! Yikes!
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#30 of 34 Old 08-01-2008, 05:29 PM
 
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WC - this is what terrifies me. I will do my absolute best to make sure that I never send a product with peanuts or one that was made in a facility that processes tree nuts but, when you're relying on 200 other parents for the life of your child, well, it just scares me

I did find sun butter and my kids are fine with it but at almost $4 a jar! Yikes!
Yikes! That's steep... I've been getting it for $2.99-$3.30 a jar at Trader Joes and Target... before that, I was buying it in bulk (4 lb jars/tubs) from the company that makes it.
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