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School Celebrations Without Shared Food (Ideas?)

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Does anyone have ideas or suggestions for classroom and school celebrations that aren't potluck, pizza party, or BBQs, etc. Any experiences suggesting these to your child's school? I feel like such a pain, but it seems really unfair that these are the main type of reward. It's just something my 12-year old endures. I think she would rather sit in detention for a week than be at a school pizza party.

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After going to my first Birthday Party (for my nephew) where pizza was served. I agree about spending a week in detention being a better choice. That Pizza smelled so wonderful, and it was pepperoni, Mmmmmm! and eating gluten free dry store bought cookies was less than satisfying.

Think activity based. Trip to the pool. Outside fun day. Movie. Gym time.

I think it is worth talking to the teacher and explaining how the food parties are isolating for him as well as having a buffet of all his favorite foods that he can't eat is just plain mean.

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Does anyone have ideas or suggestions for classroom and school celebrations that aren't potluck, pizza party, or BBQs, etc. Any experiences suggesting these to your child's school? I feel like such a pain, but it seems really unfair that these are the main type of reward. It's just something my 12-year old endures. I think she would rather sit in detention for a week than be at a school pizza party.

I was going to suggest a movie and popcorn day but MY 12 year old says that would be o.k but all the movies at school have to be "G" rated or "PG" and not such good movies. lol So I said fine what do you suggest He responded with "If someone in our class couldnt have pizza (like his little brother) he thought they should never have a pizza party, instead they could A: have a school dance, B: have a school dance (apparently he really likes thouse ;) and C: Just a simple day off school! :blink: NOT lol

If your daughters class is having a pizza party you could also bring in her own pizza just for her, then at least she could be eating pizza. My son usually hates pizza and I gave him some gluten free pizza and he claimed it was the best he has ever eaten. (o'doughs pizza kit)

The boys whole school did a p.j day and the teacher phoned me at work to see what he could have as a special snack that day for her class. She made popcorn and I ended up making a couple trays of "gluten free" rice krispie squares with the "enviro kid choco rice krispies" and they loved them and our family too :)

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Our school tries to do popcorn parties more often now. They also do ice cream parties (but my kids can't have dairy either). My kids have been attending the party, just bringing their own foods. I try to give them something they really like, but it can be very hard. My kids are younger, and the last pizza party was truly hazardous to my child's health! The food servers didn't understand and were putting food on her plate . . . the plate that had been specially reserved and handled for her. sigh . . . it was hardly a "party" for us. I went back to school and told them that if they were ever again serving gluten in her classroom to call me and I would come pick her up and take her home. They don't serve gluten IN her classroom anymore, and we were out of town for the last party. Thank goodness!

How about a scavenger hunt?

Oh, and our school personnel do not respond well to the analogy that having foods they can't eat is "mean". We have had to have extensive observation and documentation of the conditions creating autoimmune responses in our children to have much influence in the school process. Of course, after they sent my kids home with beautifully decorated Christmas tree cookies (yes, regular, full gluten cookies given to my DD with ana to wheat allergy!!) for the holidays, they seemed quite a bit more accomodating when we returned to school. But, yeah, good luck with it. I would love to hear if you figure out something really cool. It is certainly something that we deal with on a regular basis.

For food stuff, we have found that Chick-fil-a platters work well (fries, fruit, lemonade), as do deli platters from our local grocerty store deli that understands how to prepare gluten and dairy free food for us. If you find a chicken wing store that meets your requirements, that may be another option. How about a hot dog party? That is something that we can come close to matching with relative ease. Good luck!

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I brought this up because next week they are taking their state MCAS exams, so as a "treat" they are having food before the test. The message asked for healthy snacks, but it different folks think muffins an donuts are "healthy".

Then I got an email about an international celebration with a giant potluck and another message about an end of the year barbeque. I just wish schools would move away from the idea of food based rewards and celebrations.

She can bring her own food but finds that really embarrassing and is embarrassed to not be eating and I guess she's 12 and it's all embarrassing.

It's just that you are required to go to school and take these stupid federally mandated exams, and sitting there watching other kids eat things she can't can make her agitated. She was 10 when she was diagnosed so she knows what she's missing and mostly it's OK and she deals really well, but at best these things are no fun at all. I know there must be a number of other kids in her grade with the same issues based on the backpack full of epipens her teacher brought on a recent field trip.

I know some districts have banned foods altogether (eg in Lexington, MA)

"At the elementary school level during the school day, all schools will require that any parties and celebrations be food free. The use of food for curriculum instruction or special luncheons during the school day will be restricted to approval by the principal. The use of food as a reward in any classroom will be eliminated."

http://lps.lexingtonma.org/about/SC-LifeThreateningAllergies(REV).pdf

I am not sure that's the answer? It also makes me feel like such a fussy parent when I complain about this to the school. People who don't deal with this just don't get it or think about it. Her teachers are really kind and hard-working people.

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My son's third grade class just took the MCAS tests and they were handed granola bars (not gluten-free but nut-free) and bananas during the test to keep up their "energy". (how long is this test?) Luckily, he is not the kid with the problem, it is his younger brother. Occasionaly he will come home with his lunch box full because the teacher ordered pizzas to celebrate something the class did. I love the idea of having the class take a special trip but the reality is there is no time (they barely get enough outdoor time due to teaching requirements) and compared to $20-$30 in pizza, everything seems too expensive.

Younger son is in Kindergarten so we haven't had too much trouble with this yet. I will send in gluten-free cupcakes when someone in the class is celebrating a birthday so he doesn't feel left out.

Does your child's school wear uniforms? That was a very popular reward recently. The classes that sold the most tote-bags during a recent fundraiser got to have a "uniform free day" and they were all thrilled.

At a school I used to work at they did special events like Teachers vs. Students in a volleyball game. The kids who earned it (grades, attendance, whatever) got a chance to be on the kid's team. Everyone else got to watch. That seemed to be pretty popular.

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Thankfully my daughter's school banned most of these parties just this year due to so many food allergies. She does have an ice cream party this Friday as a result of a successful Read-a-Thon that she'll miss because she'll be at WDW (poor kid). Anyhow, I'm on the PTO so since I've joined my fellow board members have been incredible about presenting gluten free options at any school event. Well, with the exception of one PTO funded pizza party for families but oh well...we just bring our own food.

Even though we'll be gone for the Read-a-Thon party I am still donating some frozen fruit bars that are free of dairy and corn syrup for the kids who need it. We're trying to get a head count, and hopefully it doesn't get too expensive. If anybody has any suggestions I'll take it.

I'm mostly trying to get my daughter used to taking her own "safe" food and not making the event be about the food, but more about the event.

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I sure got sick of the food parties. One year I tried to be the room parent thinking I could at least control what was served. But that year the teacher dictated to me what it would be. And it was all stuff my daughter was allergic to. The teacher herself was a diabetic and there was another girl in the class with diabetes so I had hoped at least there would be less emphasis on sweets. Nope. The teacher herself loved to have root beer float parties. And not even any diet root beer. Regular soda is something I don't want my daughter to have because she is overweight. Sadly I did allow her to have a cup of it then because she couldn't have dairy.

I got sick of running less than satisfactory pizza to the school. She can have dairy now. She couldn't back then. So it was pizza crust with tomato and some kind of meat. She didn't really want it. Some sort of non-dairy frozen treat for the ice cream parties. And there were a LOT of those! One day I made the mistake of sending in a cup of frozen fruit stuff (can't remember the name). I had written to the teacher ahead of time and she said she would stick it in the freezer for her. Which I guess she did, but then she took it out about an hour before the party. So by the time Angela got it, it wasn't even cold!

Thankfully she is now in Jr. High and the food parties are MUCH less. They did have some around Christmas time. And one teacher at the start of the year was fond of giving out candy. There is punch and cookies at the school dances. She hasn't been to any because she takes dance class at the time of the dances. In my day they held the dances at night. Her school does them right after school!

She still can't buy a proper lunch at school. But they do have popcorn Fridays and Jamba Juice Wednesdays. And she can always buy a piece of fresh fruit or a bag of chips if she has forgotten her lunch. So it does get better with time!

One year she was in a class with three food allergic kids. I made the suggestion that we bring only healthy foods. So we had pretzels (I had to bring gluten-free ones for Angela), fruit and string cheese (Angela couldn't have that). Sadly a lot of parents showed up with candy anyway.

I just don't understand all the emphasis on food! Yes we had parties when I was in school. We got a cookie or in the case when my mom was the room parent, a piece of divinity...eek! We ate whatever it was, we played a quick game and then got back to work. We did have an end of year picnic where we all brought our own sack lunch. I liked that because my mom rarely let me bring my lunch. And on that day I was allowed a can of Shasta soda instead of milk. Oh how I hated milk!

In my mind there is no need ever to have food parties. Or really any major parties. Perhaps a really quick celebration. Pass out decortative pencils or stickers for the younger kids. Older ones don't really seem to want those. Let them have 10 or 20 minutes off from work to play a quick game or something.

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I agree that schools need to focus less on using food as rewards and celebrations. When my daughter enters kindergarten in the fal I am darn well going to fight to have nothing food related allowed for birthdays. Seems there is always a birthday celebrated in the classrooms. Cupcakes are much too messy, who will clean all the crumbs and ensure crumbs are not carried all over the room? Who will ensure the desks are all free of crumbs? I think a better idea is (if they have to bring something) is to bring a favorite book or toy to share with the class. Personally I think they should do nothing for birthdays. Kids have birthday parties at home why does it need to also be celebrated in the class?? This drives me crazy!! I also know the kindy teacher likes to do food crafts and baking in the class and that all has to stop.

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Thanks so much for all the help. It made me feel better. I sent a note to the teacher running the potluck and then she gave me her home number and I called her and we talked about it today. She's going to let her opt out tomorrow - either by going to the library or doing some other thing that is special. She thought it might be a good idea to have someone come in and do some training with the faculty around the food allergy/intolerance issue, especially the social aspects, and how to move the school culture away from the food as reward mentality. I am going to check with the social worker at the GI department to see if she knows anyone who does this type of thing. :rolleyes:

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