A Little Kindness Goes A Long Way - Custom Eating In Schools
A little kindness goes a long way. I can recall a school holiday luncheon when I was in the second grade. This was years before my Celiac diagnosis. I was the new kid. I was new to the city and school. I was also reluctant to try new dishes and most foods made me ill. This was because I was unaware of the adverse effect of gluten on my body. My mother made a simple salad. She packed the lettuce, tomatoes and cucumbers in separate containers. She also sent oil, vinegar and packaged French and Italian dressings. When I arrived at school, I noticed all of the fancy cakes and dishes. I recall feeling uncomfortable because my dish was plain. At the end of the luncheon a mother of classmate gave me a thank you note for my mother. She wanted to thank my mother for the salad. She had a dietary restriction and thought there would be no food for her to eat. She said the salad allowed her eat and feel included.
The morale of this story is that custom eaters have always existed. In the past their voices were silent and in the public eye their numbers were few. Thanks to social media platforms such as Freedible, our numbers are in the thousands and we are the face of mothers, fathers, daughters, sons, co-workers and classmates with custom eating needs. For this blog post I choice a picture of strawberries. As a child strawberries were my safety dessert. Strawberries are naturallly sweet with a vibrant color. They are a reminder of how food could be tasty and bring a smile to one's face without making them ill.
Every September when school begins, I always think about my biggest struggle. It was not making friends, it was not learning new materials and it was not navagating the advancement to a new grade. My greatest source of stress was the cafeteria and school lunch. Now is the time for custom eaters to advocate for safe "food" and safe "food handling" in schools. We need foods that are safe for our young custom eaters that is free of cross contamination.