Help! I Need A Nut-Free, Gluten-Free, Soy-Free Individually Pre-Packaged Holiday Treat For My Daughter’s Class

gluten freeA very dear friend of mine called in serious distress last night. She knew that when my daughter was younger, we’d gone through some diet adjustments to deal with light stomach aches. (Turns out, my little one is not so great with oil and grease. Even sauteing vegetables can be too much.) She was hoping that I could help her out with ideas for her daughter’s classroom holiday snacks. “I need nut-free, gluten-free, soy-free individually pre-packaged snacks for 24,” she told me.

Before I could even think of the months spent getting rid of milk or gluten or berries, I just had to the comment on the craziness of the request. “Really? You have nut, gluten, and soy allergies in Katie’s* class?”

That’s when my friend told me about the very fun day she had experienced so far. Laura* is a stay-at-home mom with an infant and a seven-year-old daughter. She’s extremely active in her daughter’s classroom, volunteering when she can and always happy to help out. When the teacher asked someone to bring in a special treat for the holiday party, Laura quickly signed up.

A couple days later, an email went out to the class parents with the details for their holiday party. Some parents were sending refreshments. Others were helping decorate the room. Laura was the all-important treat provider.

“Within an hour of the email going out, I had four different responses from parents telling me that their children needed gluten-free snacks. One child was gluten-free and soy-free. I didn’t even know that was possible. I really could not believe that many kids had dietary restrictions,” she explained. The nut allergy she had been forewarned about from her daughter’s teacher.

To be fair to my friend, celiac disease, the one that has caused so many people to turn gluten-free, affects 1% of the population. And it apparently affects more than 16% of her daughter’s class. The chances of that are pretty miniscule. At the same time, going gluten-free has become an odd diet trend in the extremely health conscious. So the chances of encountering four gluten-free moms in the extremely wealthy suburbs of Chicago where my friend lives are probably much larger.

Whichever situation we’re looking at, finding treats to accommodate these requests has been proving to be rather difficult. The obvious suggestion would be fresh fruit and veggies. The problem is that first of all, this is supposed to be a special holiday treat, not an after-soccer snack for the team. Secondly, all snacks sent to school have to be individually packaged by a manufacturer. No fresh fruit. No homemade goodies. All of those gluten-free recipes you were all about to link to in the comments, they’re useless.

I was left stumbling and stuttering as I tried to think of a single suitable snack for her daughter’s class. My lame suggestion was to hit the health food store and ask a cheerful-looking employee for help. Or maybe send a quick email to the teacher, who presumably has to deal with these dietary restrictions for snack or lunch every day.

As Laura and I struggled to come up with ideas, fired up Google for suggestions and considered her options, there was some unspoken (or maybe not unspoken) resentment for all the work that suddenly had to go into class treats. We burst out into, “Seriously?” every couple of minutes.

I mean, we all realize that dietary issues are serious. We know that nut allergies should be handled with care. And for those that really suffer from celiac disease, it’s a real problem that deserves respect. However, for those that jumped on the gluten-free trend and want to enforce it on classroom holiday treats… Well. “Seriously?”

(Photo: Dejan Stanisavljevic/Shutterstock)

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  • Andrea

    Yeah I’m calling BS on that. When I was growing up we never HEARD of anyone having allergies. If we had it was a cousin of a friend of a friend. Now you can’t swing a cat without hitting someone that has allergies to peanut, wheat, glutten, dairy, whatever. Statistically it makes no sense and I think it has been blown completely out of proportion.

    And I am aware they DO exist (yeah, I know, your friend/daughter/aunt/grandma had a friend/cousin/son/neighbor who DIED because he ate peanuts), my point is that those allergies cannot be as common as they are portrayed to be.

    • Not a parent. MockMyInsights.

      Actually they can and are. Celiacs and gluten sensitivity are great examples of this. I know tons of adults who just thought their stomachaches headaches/feeling tired was just normal. Once they were found to have celiacs and they cut out gluten they felt a hundred times better. It’s entirely possible..and likely..that many people we grew up with were affected by these problems and just wrote them off as feeling a little sick and didn’t think anything of it.

    • Leslie Miikal

      actually, peanut allerrgies only affect 3% of kids, statisically significant, but that’s no where near as many as made out, and only a select few of those 3% have anaphalaxis. Like already mentioned, gluten affects about 1% of the population. I agree shit is completely overblown. Everyone wants to bubblewrap their kids.

    • Not a parent. MockMyInsights.

      While I agree many parents today can be overprotective, I think dismissing this as “overblown” is caviler. While not everyone has full blown celiacs and not everyone will go in to anaphalxtic shock a lot of people do have real allergies. If I have gluten, I’m not going to die, but I’m going to be kind of sick the rest of the day. Big deal? No not really, but it’s also really easy to find nut free gluten free snacks.

      I do agree that parents need to take more of a responsibility here, and I’ll probably send in snacks with my kid on those days because I don’t think it should be someone else’s responsibility to worry about my kid—just like I don’t eat gluten when I’m at a dinner party. But I think that blowing it off as parents overacting isn’t right either. These kids have real allergies and dismissing them like this does a disservice to everyone.

    • Barkybark

      Well, you either have celiac, or you don’t. There’s no in-between.

      And every time you eat gluten, you put yourself at risk for such diseases as colon cancer. Since that happens to run in my family, I prefer not to take the chance.

    • Not a parent. MockMyInsights.

      What I meant was that there are many people(myself included) who are sensitive to gluten but don’t have celiacs disease. Will I become violently ill if I eat gluten? No. Will I have fairly intense digestion distress for the next 6-12 hours. Yup. It’s still an allergy, but it’s not as bad as my seaweed allergy, which yes will KILL me if I ingest even a morsel.

    • Teri

      What ignorance. 1 in 13 children in the United States has a food allergy. Get with the times. And also, your blase attitude that as long as it doesn’t kill them, it’s acceptable to make a child sick for your own convenience really reveals your intellectual capacity here. What you’re advocating is child abuse, nothing more.

    • wmdkitty

      What a douchenozzle. Advocating taking away other people’s choices because your little Cznofleykke has allergies. Seriously, dude, LIGHTEN UP.

    • Ellen

      best version of snowflake ever.

    • Elin

      Yes, because it is extremely difficult to supply your child with a seemlier snack. I’ve a first cousin who is affected by allergies. I agree, it is not a mere slip of a sort of “inability”. He had once snuff a sandwich dotted with sesame, the rest of the night he spent on the infusion pump.

    • lea

      As someone who works in immunology, I can tell you that allergies are really actually are on the increase, particularly in more developed countries. For example, in Australia, up to 40% of kids have some kind of allergic sensitivity. Not all of these go on to develop into problematic lifelong allergic diseases but a great deal do. (Also, not all of them are food allergies).

      Have you heard of the hygiene hypothesis? Basically, because we are now living further away from our more rural origins, and disinfect our surroundings to an astounding degree- we are not exposed to enough of the microbes that help our immune systems develop properly. Allergies are basically our immune system misfiring or over reacting.

      Also, just in case people are interested- it is now advised that women do NOT avoid foods during pregnancy or breast feeding and during the child’s first year in an attempt to avoid allergies in their children. It doesn’t work, and there is even some evidence to suggest this will actually make them MORE likely to develop an allergy. Good news for the peanut fans :)

    • MommyK

      I heard of a study the other day (sorry I can’t remember who it was done by), that suggested that high exposure to pesticides was linked to an increased likelihood of food allergies. Sounds possible…

    • Andrea

      Yes I have heard of that. And I completely agree. Because we over clean everything, because we don’t let our kids play in the dirt, and because we live constantly bathed in Purell, these are the results. Plus the whole avoiding foods during pregnancy and not introducing foods to kids in a timely manner. All those things could be avoided by ALLOWING our bodies to naturally develop what they need to fight allergies.

  • CMJ

    Ugh – the problem with “gluten-free” is that so many people do it as a diet, as opposed to people who actually have celiac or some sort of allergy (you can have a gluten allergy or intolerance without having full-blown celiac). That being said, I shy away from even telling anyone about my gluten issues (I’ve had various stomach problems since I was 20. Seriously, the Dr. told me I had the colon of a 60 year old man) because most people assume I’m trying to lose weight. I just bring my own food and don’t talk about it.

    • Venessa

      This is a sad outcome of such trends! It takes away from the seriousness of the actual allergy when others do it for their own vanity.

    • Not a parent. MockMyInsights.

      Also, honestly if you’re still eating GF pasta and GF cookies and such….you’re not going to lose weight. It’s *slightly* healthier because these things can use less processed flour and processed sugar…but the only way you’re going to lose a significant amount of weight is if you stop eating carbs (which is the Atkins diet) or if you stop eating anything with even trace amounts of gluten in it (Which is basically everything). I eat very little gluten because I’m senstive to it. I haven’t lost weight. It’s a health issue.

    • Vikky

      On the other hand…all this trendy gluten-free food I can get at the grocery store is making it easy for me to wrangle my own wheat allergy! (GF Donuts?! OMG, I loved donuts when I was a kid!!! I can haz dem???!!!) But, yeah, I’ve had multiple food allergies for all of my 40 years, and while I used to have to explain “what’s a food allergy” cause I was the only one I knew who had them, now I just tell people I “don’t like” certain foods so they won’t think I’m “trendy”. Food Allergies used to be some freakish medical condition, so it’s good there’s an awareness, but bad that so many people are stuck with them…and really bad that there seems to be a growing resentment against people with allergies.

    • Erica

      Allergies are real, many of my family members have allergies and we gladly cook appropriate food for them during family gatherings. I think the resentment begins when those with certain diets and allergies force their needs on others. My family and friends are one thing – I’d gladly make gluten free food for my kids’ friends but I hate the idea of a nut-free school. Telling me I can’t pack a peanut butter jelly sandwich in my kids’ lunch because a couple kids are allergic! How are these kids going to function in the workplace – in much closer quarters with adults who will not be as considerate as teachers and kids.

    • Vikky

      “Telling me I can’t pack a peanut butter jelly sandwich in my kids’ lunch because a couple kids are allergic!”Yep! Because some kids have peanut allergies that are so severe that they could DIE if they breathe in peanut dust from your kid’s PB&J. Seriously, who wants a PB&J bad enough to kill for it? (Although, I’ve never had a PB&J–are they really that good?) Work =/= School. You choose where you work (somewhere with no food,no cafeteria, no fridge). Kids don’t choose where they go to school, unless their parents have money. Poor kids with medical conditions deserve to get an education in a non-life-threatening environment!

    • wmdkitty

      Like I said above, if it’s your allergy, it’s your responsibility. You do not have the right to dictate to OTHERS what they may or may not eat.

    • Vikky

      What don’t you get about: “Because some kids have peanut allergies that are so severe that they
      could DIE if they breathe in peanut dust from your kid’s PB&J.
      Seriously, who wants a PB&J bad enough to kill for it? “

    • wmdkitty

      I get it. It’s just not okay for you to use that to dictate to others what they may or may not consume. I’m sorry, it sucks, but that’s how it is. Your allergy, your responsibility. The world isn’t going to cater to you or your kid, so you might as well learn to deal with it now.

    • Bran Chesterton

      I, for once, agree with wmdkitty :)

    • AP

      The problem with peanut-free facilities is that they never actually are. I’ve worked in them. One camp was supposed to be peanut-free, but they didn’t tell this to the staff who didn’t supervise kids over lunch. We brought in peanut butter to the staff lunchroom all the time. The staff lunchroom was the designated peanut-free area.

      Another place was a YMCA childcare program. Allegedly peanut-free, but sold peanuts and peanut-butter treats in the vending machine.

      Several other places were used for kids by day, adults on nights and weekends. No one knew what any of the night-weekend participants were doing, either.

      Unless someone is doing a TSA-style search of everyone’s bags at the door, the place isn’t peanut-free.

  • Venessa

    This is crazy! I think the other parents are expecting too much here. Would it be considered really rude if your friend sends out an email to the other parents about this? She could probably check if any of the kids have actual allergies (or if it is just parents pushing kids on a band wagon). If it is not life threatening allergies, then maybe she can send 2 options for each kid – a small pack of pre-packaged fruit (I know, not as good as fresh..but at least it is pre-packaged like they want!) and then a nut free cake or other dessert.
    This way, the kids can either choose to eat both or just the fruit and forsake the dessert because of their dietary restriction.

    I am trying to be open minded here, but if it not about allergies, I really can’t see how parents could force such harsh restrictions on their kid’s diets! I understand being vegetarian or even vegan to a certain extent, but soy free and gluten free? How many of these kids are going to follow this diet when they are grown up and make their own decisions?

    • Venessa

      Hmm..I tried posting a link to some snacks I found, but I guess we are not allowed to post external links? Anyways..I just wanted to suggest (not advertising, not in any way related to or connected to this brand) Enjoy Life Foods. There were some good cookies, chocolate bars and chips that would make great allergy free treats.

    • Helen Donovan

      I bet that ones that don’t really have allergies are already trading lunches or sponging of friends to get their fix of forbidden foods.

    • Teri

      Those with food allergies, like me and my children, aren’t doing this to be a pain in the rear to you. We have such “harsh restrictions” because we have a medical condition that requires them. Food makes us sick, and we have a right to not be sick all the time.

      “If it’s not life-threatening…” Okay, so it’s okay for you for a child to be sickened by food as long as it doesn’t kill them? That’s like saying it’s okay to give a child a little arsenic as long as it doesn’t kill them.

    • Jessie

      Bring your own food in. Why should everyone else be restricted because of what you can’t eat? I have celiac disease and I don’t expect everyone to cater to me, it’s really quite presumptuous to expect that.

    • Venessa

      I think you misunderstood me here.

      When I said “I am trying to be open minded here, but if it not about allergies, I really can’t see how parents could force such harsh restrictions on their kid’s diets!” .. I really meant why would parents push their kids on a bandwagon when they don’t really have allergies? I thought I was quite clear that I wasn’t talking about kids with allergies. Of course I know that people who suffer from something are not trying to be a pain in my rear. I have allergies and other issues which makes life a living hell for my family, but they compromise because it is a health issue and not a fad.

      And by “If it’s not life-threatening…get two options” I was trying to suggest that the author’s friend send 2 options – one allergy free and one regular. As long as breathing the air around the regular food doesn’t cause the kids with allergies to have an attack, they can pick the safe option and still be ok. I know that lots of kids can be around nuts and foods with nuts without having an attack. So in that scenario sending some snacks with nuts would be ok as long as the kid with allergy has another option. Now, if the allergy is life threatening and the kid cannot be anywhere near the allergen, then this wouldn’t work.

      I hope you give my explanation a chance and try to understand what I am saying before you jump down my throat again.

    • Vee

      Then maybe YOU should be in charge of the snacks at school, as well as other with actual dietary restrictions.

    • Sergio Johnson

      if you or your kids drink apple juice you are getting some arsenic.

    • Shea

      Yeah, I feel bad for kids whose parents have decided that they’re going to go gluten-free, not because anyone has Celiac’s or some other kind of gluten intolerance, but because they’re hopping on the trendy bandwagon. I once worked as a cook on a guest ranch, and we had a family one week (mom, dad, pre-teen daughter and 6-year-old son) in which the little boy didn’t eat gluten, dairy or sugar. The mom told me clearly that it wasn’t due to any sort of disease or intolerance (I was concerned about potential cross-contamination), but because a naturopath told her it would cure her son’s hyperactivity. While I was used to catering to guests’ dietary restrictions and preferences, making a special gluten-free, sugar-free, dairy-free dessert for a 6-year-old was a challenge. I made little fruit cups for him, garnished with dark chocolate shavings, which he would eat rather sadly while watching his dad and sister chow down on chocolate cake or ice cream sundaes. I felt bad for the poor kid, forced to adhere to his mom’s whacky dietary restrictions. I mean, I would have felt bad for him if he’d had allergies that made him unable to eat gluten, dairy or sugar, but the fact that it was just his nutty mom made me feel even worse, especially since he was the only one in the family whose diet was restricted that way.

    • waffre

      I saw a naturopath for my hyperactivity as a kid, but fortunately by the time they came up with the whole “nothing fun in your diet ever” cure idea, I was old enough to make it clear to my mom that no WAY was I going to comply with that. I had tasted chocolate and peanut butter and I was never going back!!

  • Kate

    FYI – You can get pre-packaged baggies of sliced apples at Costco.

    • CMJ

      That Marzetti Caramel dip is also gluten-free….it does have dairy though.

  • Lawcat

    Honestly? I’d send an email out saying there will be no treats provided as it would be hard to comply with all the allergy restrictions.

    Parents can send a treat for their own child.

    That, or bring a bag of apples. Unless someone pops up with a fruit allergy.

    • bumbler

      I’m allergic to apple skins! Haha, but no one cared at my school. In fact, I don’t think anyone even knew (apples won’t kill me, just give me a stomach ache). I simply didn’t eat apples that were brought in. No different than the days I skipped the treat because it was something I didn’t LIKE, such as pretzels.
      I would be pretty miffed if my daughter’s school tried to give her a sense of entitlement to treats and snacks by demanding people work around her mild allergies or food restrictions. She is allergic to coconut and I don’t like her eating food dyes…so I tell her not to eat them! Tough luck if someone brings in neon green coconut cookies. Even though I don’t like it, if she chose to eat a neon green cookie, it wouldn’t “destroy” her diet. Drop in the bucket.

    • canaduck

      I have allergies to nuts, soy, and wheat. When I was little, my mom would always give my teacher a box of fruit snacks at the beginning of the year so that when a kid came in with birthday cupcakes, I’d still have something.

      This was in the early 80s, though, and I was the only child I knew with any food allergies at all. Now they’re all over the place so I guess things are more complicated.

      Anyway, that’s my suggestion: fruit snacks.

  • Mary

    This company seems to have a lot of products that cover the allergy bases:

    • canaduck

      Love them!

  • Michelle

    Jell-o Pudding – nut-free, gluten-free, soy-free

  • Not a parent. MockMyInsights.

    This might sound obvious, but couldn’t she bring two snacks? A nut free gluten filled one and a nut free gluten/soy free one?
    The nut thing could cause kids to die, so I get that.
    But (and I’m gf free too here) gluten free people are really used to eating things that are different from other people. I can’t imagine that it would cause an issue.
    Also, is a good resource for vegan, gluten free recipes and resources.

  • Dee Cee

    16%? For whatever reason, Celiac opted to hit my (extended) family pretty hard. About 25% across my generations’ worth of cousins on that side. Not just suspected, clinically diagnosed by MD’s.

    • Meg

      They all share the same genes, so that’s more plausible. The likelihood that there would be an incidence of 16% of Celiac’s in a random (not *truly*, but closer) group of people? Sounds like embracing the fad, not raised awareness.

    • Andrea

      What Meg said. Families share genes, so it’s not uncommon for a bunch of members to be hit with the same thing. But 16% of a random sample? And a classroom is pretty random. I call BS. It’s a fad, not a trend and complete BS that makes it so much harder for people that truly suffer from Celiac’s

  • geejay

    For all you people that mock the sensitivities to food and wonder why we have so many food issues these days, more than when we were growing up, think hard about our food supply and all the garbage (soy lecithin, high fructose corn syrup, MSG, etc etc) that is now put into our food that wasn’t when we were growing up. Of course we are all now a population of food sensitive people. It’s not a Fad, it’s a Trend… we and especially our children’s little bodies are reacting to all that garbage. My kids have real sensitivities to wheat and dairy (each with its own sensitivity, of course) with real consequences if they ingest it. Luckily they won’t die if they eat it, but the sensitivity is real and I can’t tell you how appreciative I am of the moms that remember, respect, and go out of their way to make my kids feel “normal” in their homes, at their birthday parties or in class celebrations. I try to bring in popsicles or gluten/egg/dairy/soy/nut-free brownies when I can. We are in Toronto and we have some bakeries that pre-package those kinds of treats. In 2012, if you look for it, you shall find!

    • Venessa

      I don’t think anyone here is mocking people who have true sensitivities to these allergens. The issue here is people who eat gluten free or other kind of diet as a fad, which then takes the seriousness away from people who truly have issues. See CMJ’s comment below..she has a valid cause for this diet (just like your kids), but people assume she is trying to lose weight and that it is just a fad for her like it is very a lot of other people.

    • Teri

      No there are some, and their backwards attitudes showing how acceptable they find it to make kids sick as long as they don’t die of anaphylaxis are the kinds of things people with food allergies need to fight every damn day. We have to explain over and over again that we don’t do this because it’s inconvenient for others. We do it because we are people, not problems, and we deserve to live in a way that doesn’t make us sick.

    • Lawcat

      No one is forcing you to eat a snack that is voluntarily provided. It’s not child abuse, as you said above. Anyone who would ever equate the two has serious issues or has never seen actual child abuse. Disgusting.

      If your allergy is such that it requires absolute restriction, the appropriate response is to abstain or provide something your child could eat.

    • waffre

      Well, I don’t know that it’s right to make parents of kids with allergies send an individual treat for their child when it’s a special occasion and someone is supposed to be providing treats for all the children (which is what we’re talking about in this instance), but in general, yes, some people seem to think “those with allergies shouldn’t be treated differently” means “it’s not my responsibility to worry about my allergies, other people should accomodate me,” which is a recipe for an allergic reaction if you ask me, you can’t trust anyone but yourself to make sure you’re protected from your allergens.

    • ChopChick

      Like it or not, gluten free is VERY MUCH a fad.

      I know countless people who go gluten free because they want to. I know many others who had some kind of illness (in one particular case IBS) and the doctor swore up and down she MUST have a gluten allergy. It’s currently just one of the diagnoses of choice.

  • Meg

    I mean, you don’t want to stigmatize kids, but I remember when I was in grade school (when dinosaurs roamed the earth) there were kids who had restrictions based on religion – kosher, halal, etc. Around the holidays, parents would bring several different options, and anyone could pick whatever they wanted (as long as there was enough to go around and make sure the kids who NEEDED them, got them). So no nuts, but maybe bring one “normal” snack (holiday tree cakes or something?) and one … I dunno, healthy option? Fruit chews? Apple slices? Then make sure everyone knows what is in what and let the kids sort it out. Supervised, of course.

  • CleaK
    • bumbler

      I laughed so hard!

  • Smalls

    Food for Life makes treats that stay away from all common allergens, nuts, eggs, soy, gluten, etc.

  • Emily

    My daughter’s class has the same issue, with dairy-free thrown in, plus a couple of fruit allergies (no two kids have the same, of course). Save for nut, which can cause anaphylaxis when it’s even in the same room as someone who is badly allergic, providing a couple of different options should work. Go to Whole Foods: done and done. Seven is old enough to understand that not everyone eats the same thing.

    • Venessa

      Agreed! I was trying to say the same thing.

  • Eileen

    If it has to be ONE treat, then I agree with those people who said send in prepackaged fruit (although anyone on Atkins is going to be SOL there). There are reasonable accommodations, and then there are unrealistic expectations.

    Plus, you know…it’s a treat! My sister generally avoids dairy because it gives her awful stomachaches, but a little whipped cream on her non-dairy hot chocolate is something she really looks forward to.

  • MKH

    I’m sure there are quite a few chocolate bars out there, especially from Whole Foods or Trader Joes that fit the specifications–nothing fancy, but it should work. Jell-O pudding is not gluten-free. I’m celiac and I have never had trouble finding gluten-free chocolate.

  • Leslie Miikal

    I miss the days when the peanut allergy kids (the whole 2 in our school of 600), sat at a different table for the 10 minutes we ate, and then resumed normal integration the rest of the day. I guess what I miss is when people, you know, taught their children what to stay away from…

    • Teri

      Wow, you miss the days of segregation for people with a medical condition. That’s sort of like saying you miss the good ol’ days when African-Americans had their own water fountains. Maybe you should look up those two kids and see how much they enjoyed being kicked out of normal social functions because of something beyond their control before revealing your ignorance.

    • Shea

      Yes. Because sitting at a nut-free table for a half hour at lunchtime in elementary school is exactly like being a Black person in Mississippi in 1950. Totally the same thing.

    • Mr. Peanut

      Nut racism is real, and people need to be more compassionate. Maybe you should look up those two kids. I’ll bet you dollars to nut-free donuts they’re still pretty sad.

    • Tanya

      Don’t be such a baby “Wah wah wah. Instead of taking care of ourselves we should just take things away from everyone else. Cuz that’s fair! Noone should be able to enjoy things they like that we can’t eat! Waaahhhh”
      Being seperaetd while you eat so you don’t trade food with someone else that might cause someone to have a serious reaction is better than taking from everyone. How is the kid going to survive when he gets older if he/she expects everyone to tell them “No don’t eat that”?

    • Anna

      Having loved through my daughters tears of feeling isolated I find it disheartening that so many people lack empathy for children. If it was your loves one you’d feel different. Like we always say in the medical profession. Treat everyone like it was your mother who is the one who is sick and that will probably change your attitude about lethal food allergies.

    • Anna

      Having loved through my daughters tears of feeling isolated I find it disheartening that so many people lack empathy for children. If it was your loves one you’d feel different. Like we always say in the medical profession. Treat everyone like it was your mother who is the one who is sick and that will probably change your attitude about lethal food allergies.

  • Brandy

    How about yogurt “Saturdays”? Kid-sized yogurt cups (or non-dairy alternatives, if needed), individually packaged bags of granola, m&ms, sprinkles, dried fruits, fresh fruits, etc, spoons, and bowls, non-dairy whipped topping if possible. Give each kid a bowl, a spoon, and a yogurt cup. Then, let them choose from the assortment of toppings–only what they can AND will eat. Top with whipped topping if desired. Voila! Soy-free, nut-free, gluten-free, and even dairy-free if need be. Healthy, too, depending on toppings offered.

    • wmdkitty

      Umm… yogurt is a dairy product. (But damn, does that sound delicious!)

    • Shea

      That’s why she added “or non-dairy alternatives, if needed”.

    • wmdkitty

      Er… yeah, I missed that. My bad.

    • Shea

      It does sound good though, doesn’t it? Especially with Greek yogurt, if dairy is okay.

    • tara

      Granola is not nut free, M&m’s are not nut free, sprinkles are not soy free, dried fruits are not nut free. other then that it looks great! And yes I always supply treats for my peanut/ tree nut/ soy allergic children!

  • Flora

    This is why I am SO glad I run my own facility! I make it very clear that we are not nut free and that we do not do gluten free soy free diets when we make our snacks. All food brought by other kids or handed out for Halloween (for example, pre-wrapped trick or treat candy) gets sent home for parental inspection and is not allowed to be consumed on my property. People are crazy these days! If I think of anything, I’ll let you know!

  • amy

    i’m more disgusted that the items have to be pre-packaged by a manufacturer than the “trendy” allergies. what? that’s the most ridiculous thing i’ve ever heard! no wonder all the kids have allergies, if all they’re allowed to eat is super processed pre-packaged food!

    • ladycrim

      Yeah, the days when homemade cupcakes were brought in were always the highlights of school! How sad that it has to come to this.

      (I should add: I run the hospitality suite at a local convention, so I do understand about making accommodations for allergies. But except for foods that can cause reactions just from being in the room – like nuts and citrus – we trust people to know what they can and can’t eat.)

    • ladycrim

      Yeah, the days when homemade cupcakes were brought in were always the highlights of school! How sad that it has to come to this.

      (I should add: I run the hospitality suite at a local convention, so I do understand about making accommodations for allergies. But except for foods that can cause reactions just from being in the room – like nuts and citrus – we trust people to know what they can and can’t eat.)

  • Tori

    Try Divvies! They’re a bakery that’s without nut, eggs or dairy. They use regular flour in their cookies, but they also have other treats, like jelly beans, gum balls and gummy snacks. Once I found out that I developed a nut allergy almost three years ago, Divvies has been a life saver! Their stuff is great, and I gift it all of the time.

  • Alice

    I’m pretty much the most sensitive celiac you can imagine (I can’t live with gluten-eaters and use the same dishes even when run through the dishwasher kind of sensitive) and I think the obvious solution is multiple snacks that each cater to the appropriate allergy. A celiac kid (or any kid with food sensitivities) is understanding that they can’t always have what everyone else has. They’re probably used to never having what everyone else has. So to have one GF snack and one soy-free snack seems the most obvious. I know nut allergies can cause serious problems even if inhaled, so just keep everything nut-free.

    In addition and in response to the statements that no one had these allergies back in the day… yeah, no one had ever heard of celiac disease when I was a kid, and it turns out I was sick all the time and it was constantly being blamed on different ailments. As an adult, I was diagnosed and realized that life was so much more awesome for people who didn’t feel sick all the time…. It was super awesome, frankly, even though I had to give up some food I liked.

    • Barkybark

      Yeah, I had celiac disease as a baby in the 1960s, and back then the doctors thought it just “went away.” Haha. I suffered for decades until I was re-diagnosed.

      And just my comment: I think each parent should send something in with their kid. Frankly, if something is ‘wheat-free, milk-free, nut-free, soy-free, etc.,” it tastes like it.

  • Blueathena623

    This may be a dumb question, but has your friend emailed those parents for suggestions? What do they give their kids that is prepackaged? And honestly, if your friend hints that she doesn’t think she’ll be able to find snacks, some of those parents might write back and say “never mind, gluten is ok ” if its a fad, and not an actual allergy.

  • jem

    lollipops and jelly beans are usually a safe bet. JellyBelly’s are gluten free, nut free. not sure about soy free but probably.

    • canaduck

      Good idea! Usually they’re soy-free but you should check the packaging since soy gets added to so much.

  • Erica

    I suppose this is doable. My thought is the cost of these snacks once you find them. I’d have to back out on this one unless parents are contributing.

  • Teri

    OR, here’s a revolutionary thought–DON’T SERVE FOOD. Maybe we can combat the obesity epidemic if we send kids the message that they don’t need to stuff their faces to have a good time. They could do an art project, play games, sing songs, watch a movie, or any number of things anyone could think of if they got out of the food mentality and used their brains.

    • LindsayCross

      Call me crazy, but I don’t feel like treats for a holiday party in elementary school are really the cause of the obesity epidemic.

  • AP

    Kazoos are free of nuts, gluten, and soy, and can come individually packaged.

    They also are obnoxious as all hell, just like these entitled parents.

    • Blooming_Babies

      I freakin love this comment… Thanks for a laugh

  • Mr. Peanut

    Beef Jerky, Buffalo Jerky, Bonito Flakes, Pork Rinds, Slim Jims.

  • Lara

    I would say call the child’s parents to ask for suggestions–as they have to deal with this every day!

  • Elizabeth DeSalvo

    Actually, this author of this article didn’t do their research. Sure, it’s estimated that only 1% of the population has Celiac disease, but what most people don’t “get” is that gluten affects MANY MORE health issues. You don’t have to have Celiac disease to have Gluten Intolerance. Celiac disease is the “serious” form of Gluten Intolerance, where the villi is destroyed, malnutrition results and the body has other symptoms, typically lethargy, anemia and even infertility. Gluten intolerance can affect autoimmune disorders- even asthma! Typically kids who can’t have gluten IN ADDITION to soy or nuts are on the diet to control other conditions which are worsened by these ingredients, particularly when these ingredients are in the diet in any combination. Up to 15% of the population may actually be gluten intolerant in one way or another, but diagnosis hasn’t been common in the US because of insurance issues, the tests required and our health epidemic leaving diagnosis an unrealistic ‘waste’ of money. It can cost over $2000 to get diagnosed as biopsy isn’t typically covered and most people, due to how society treats it, doesn’t view it as “serious.” They’ll just “deal with a little discomfort.” Unfortunately, this method of dealing has been proven to take years off your life and even increase risk of cancer 4 times more than “normal” people. For those claiming that gluten intolerance, stomach pain or other symptoms worsening isn’t considered a “serious allergy,” you haven’t lived it. You haven’t been in pain for hours on end, in bathrooms, not absorbing nutrients, getting to the point of internal bleeding or being “mysteriously” ill. And it’s not that “my people” are multiplying- diagnosis is becoming more common due to advances in technology and more awareness.

    • Vikky

      So, 1% Celiacs + 15% Gluten intolerant + 1% wheat allergic = 17% of Americans who can’t eat wheat. This is a big number!

  • wmdkitty

    This is for Teri

    If it’s your allergy, it’s YOUR RESPONSIBILITY.

    You have every right to advocate for your (or your child’s) safety, nobody is disputing that. We ARE saying that you do NOT have the right to dictate what OTHERS may eat (which IS the net effect of “peanut free” schools and the like).

    • Not a parent. MockMyInsights.

      You can not be serious. Let me lay this out for you:

      Your kid eats at a separate table from kids with peanut allergies, and eats a pb&j. He doesn’t wash his hands after lunch, and has a smidge of pb on them. He then touches a kid with a severe nut allergy who STOPS BREATHING because of the smudge of pb.

      Unless you are suggesting that every child with an allergy that severe attends a separate nut free school building, you are cracked. The reality is that these kids can die from even a drop of nut product. Fact.
      And no one is dictating what you can and can not eat. If you want to eat your weight in pb in your own home, that’s just find and dandy. But you can’t do it at school.

    • Beckye Bryden

      But it’s still your responsiblity. If Timmy has a nut allergy, talk to HIM and explain he might needs to ask friends to bring nut free lunches to eat in a separate room (if it’s that serious). Ask the teacher to have kids use purell.

      I kind of understand since my migraines are food triggers based. One of them is cheese and I freaking love cheese. But if someone has pizza and I chose to eat it, my responsibity. I get a headache, my fault.
      Timmy’s not going to live in a nut free world,

    • Not a parent. MockMyInsights.

      Yes, but you will get a headache. Timmy is going to stop breathing. Huge difference. If I eat seaweed, I’ll stop breathing. But when my husband has sushi, he comes home, washes his hands and brushes his teeth. I’m not going to ask everyone to do that, I just avoid sushi places. Nuts are harder.

      And I agree that these kids are not going to live in a nut free world. They don’t already. But schools are a different, in large part because these are kids that are still learning about the world around them. Adults understand the severity of nut allergies, and if Timmy worked in an office, he’d carry an epi pin with him, and I’m sure he’d politely ask people if they had nuts with their lunch before shaking hands with them. There’s a whole lot of body contact in schools–playing, holding hands, gym, running with friends. And, again, since these kids are still learning about all kinds of stuff, a lot of them may not realize how severe allergies can be.

      So I’ll make you a deal–we won’t require schools to have nut free policies if every single parent/guardian teaches their kids about allergies and how severe they can be, and explains to kids that if they eat nuts at school, they need to tell all of their friends in case they have an allergy, brush their teeth and gargle after they eat the nuts and wash their hands thoroughly with soap and water.

      It’s absolutely possible to have nuts and kids that have nut allergies in the same building. But the logistics are just too hard for schools to deal with. God knows they have enough to deal with. It’s just easier on them to ban nuts.

  • Em

    Take them water bottles. Oh wait it’s supposed to be a treat . . . Fiji water bottles then.

  • Erin S.

    Enjoy Life Foods makes products that are without the 8 most common allergens. I have a deathly peanut allery and a severe soy sensitivity and my wife can’t have gluten or dairy (common combo). They have chocolate chewy bars that are like a fudgier brownie.

    • Whitney Drake

      Enjoy Life’s cookies have been a life saver for my son & his class. For most parties, I bring him his own treats, but for his birthday we brought some of their prepackaged cookies.

  • KatDuck

    In grad school we lived in married student housing which was a rabbit-warden of procreativity and it was a thing that, when someone had a baby, the others would sign up to provided dinners for the first few weeks. Then one family sent out a rather snottily worded email that their 2-year-old was allergic or intolerant to nuts, dairy, wheat, sugar, and a handful of other things and their meals following child #2 better not contain any of that stuff. They got one meal from a brave individual.

    As someone with a food intolerance, I get that it’s not something you just get over or suck up but … seriously, people, at least send out some favorite recipes or stock up on special meals for the 2-year-old and thank others for providing food for the parents. A food intolerance or allergy does not make you special. It makes you someone who can’t eat/touch that food. Now if death follows contact then, hey, please do let others know so that they won’t be inadvertently responsible for death cause, hey, guilt sucks. Other than that … request but don’t demand. You’re not that special. Trust me, I’ll be at the allergy table with you.

  • M. Welker

    My family is all GF. 4/5 of my kids tested allergic to wheat or celiac. The youngest was never tested as she’s been GF her whole life. That all being said, I provide treats for MY kids, period. That way I know what they are eating. If I had to buy for a whole class, it probably would be the lollipop suggestion. NO way would I try to buy prepackaged foods that fit all of the criteria, I can’t afford it.

  • Lisa

    Gluten intolerance can manifest in many ways, not just Celiac disease. As an elementary school teacher, I have seen empirically how eliminating gluten from the diets of children on the autism spectrum can make a dramatic difference in their conditions. Personally, I have suffered from narcolepsy my entire adult life – until I came across some new research linking my condition to gluten intolerance. I went off gluten as an experiment (not having very high hopes), and three days later, my narcolepsy was gone! My life changed overnight due to a simple change in diet, and I saw how much it helped several of my students with Aspergers, too; so please don’t be so quick to judge!

  • Heather

    The way I read it, the pre-packaged rule comes from the school. Nobody wants some random parents to accidentally send the “special” brownies to school, or have some psycho mom/dad hand out a poisoned/allergen-filled cupcake to a student who bullied their kid. My suggestion, as long as sugar is ok, is candy- you have to read the labels to search, but it is out there.

  • Mk19106

    Enjoy Life products.

  • K.

    I can *guarantee* that if you brought in treats and said, “These have no soy, gluten, or nuts!” the parents of these snowflakes would STILL not allow their kids to eat them because the treats come from a ‘contaminated house’ and you just can’t trust people to do it right these days.

  • prof101

    Candy canes?

  • Jonniegirl

    String cheese and satsumas.

  • Bethany Brayton

    I think I’d be ticked at the school. I could make something that satisfies the requirements and is fun, but not that is pre-packaged. Do they really think parents are going to put razorblades and rat poison in the treats?

  • Afraidtoshootlemons

    A tub of meringues should do the trick. The ingredients are primarily sugar, cream of tartar, and vanilla or chocolate or almond or whatever their flavor is.

  • Marta

    Man, I was looking foe allergy free kids snacks and all I found was this group of catty ladies with no answers. So much for this website.

  • LowFODMAPtummy

    Just want to throw it out there that you can be sensitive to gluten without being celiac. A much higher portion of the population has inflammatory bowel diseases (celiac, chrohns, etc.) and this can be helped by limiting gluten. If my parents had know that when I was a child, I might have had an easier healthy childhood.

  • Liz

    As someone who has a gluten allergy, I’m not really enjoying some of the comments here. Some people have legitimate concerns. When a parent volunteers to make snacks for an entire class of kids they are taking on a responsibility–including a responsibility to NOT be the cause of a child’s sickness. I don’t understand why this needs to be a long-drawn discussion. Here’s some easy solutions… pudding? jello? fruit cups? As for kids bringing in their own food for their own allergies, don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that they shouldn’t try to help. But when you take on the responsibility for an entire class, that includes those with allergies, even if it is inconvenient.

    In regards to this 1% of the population statistic within the blog, the statistic for celiac disease is higher now as more people are getting tested. Furthermore, gluten intolerance is not something that we have statistics for but it is a thing. I know many people who have it and if you saw the condition any of them (including myself) are in when we eat gluten, you would not be so critical. In terms of studies, gluten intolerance usually falls under the category of IBS as doctors do not have a legitimized test for it yet. It is a thing though. It is also more common among young people who have grown up eating genetically modified food their entire lives.

    I understand that being gluten free or soy free is a fad for some, but you would be surprised at how many people are legitimately affected. For those complaining, I’m sorry, but you honestly have no idea how rude that is. An allergy is something that is beyond an individual’s control. Just a thought.

  • Sergio Johnson

    Wow, I am allergic to Watermelon and as a child my mom would make me ice cream while my brother and sister got watermelon. I did not like this as a kid and I shock people as an adult when I tell them. It is hard to feed people whom have these allergies. Sometimes I wish the parents only had to feed their own child/children, then you would not have to worry about the others, however we are trying to teach our children to be understanding of others needs.

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