Every fall for the last two years, our elementary school has hosted a Harvest Festival. It takes place after school in the gym, and families are encouraged to bring a salad, soup, or bread to share with the community.
Of course, this sort of potluck event can be a food allergy family’s nightmare. We attended for the last few years, but mostly brought our own food and supplemented with applesauce and raw veggies. Mainly, we just went for the fun.
This year though, the opportunity to improve the event fell into my lap. Several months ago, a mom I’ve known since our kids were toddlers together informed me that the school’s Health and Wellness Committee lacked a Food Allergy voice. I began attending meetings, but didn’t really know how I would fit things. Soon though, I discovered that the Harvest Festival is run by the Health and Wellness committee.
A bell went off in my head, and I realized this was my opportunity to improve things. I pointed out that the Harvest Festival was the sort of potluck event that many food allergy families don’t even bother attending, because the logistics, exclusion, and even danger was too much to deal with. I declared that I would sponsor an allergy friendly table this year, and everybody was instantly on board, ready for me to guide it.
Of utmost importance to me was making sure that all fliers and marketing for the event included the information that allergy-friendly foods would be available–I wanted those same food allergy families to know that it would be worth their while to come. I also sent this email to our school nurse, asking her to please forward it to all known food allergy families enrolled in the school. I can’t say for sure that she did, since she seemed concerned that such an invitation would imply liability, but I sent it to her anyway.
I also worked extensively on the sign-up document to give people the opportunity to bring allergy-friendly fare of their own. I also set up a list . . .
Read more on how we took a food filled event and made it allergy friendly here!