Monday, July 23, 2012

{Allergy Free} Church Nurseries

Since we've moved we get to go through the wonderful experience of finding new restaurants, new places to go, and a new church.  Church shopping is one of my least favorite things to do.  It's just so awkward sometimes!

Hi, we're the new family in town and we have an allergy list a mile long.  Yes, we know you have a nursery.  No, we won't be leaving our kids in that nursery.  Yes, we will be taking them with us.  Yes, we know you have a children's program.  No, we don't want a donut.

How do we church shop?  I call a church mid-week and ask about their nursery and snacks.  I talk with the children's minister and explain our problem.  Some of them are very accommodating, some are already aware of food allergies and have policies in place, some are very willing to learn and work with us, and some of them just do not get it.

The new trend I've found in church nurseries is this-the snack of choice is now saltine crackers and water.  And every single church that serves this thinks they are super allergy free and allergy friendly.

I hate breaking the news to them that saltine crackers contain wheat which is one of the top 8 allergens.  Not only are many many children allergic to wheat, some are celiac which makes them intolerant to the wheat.  So, wheat is bad for many reasons.

Other churches only serve cheerios.  Again, we face the same problem-wheat.

The churches are moving in the right direction and working to be more allergy-friendly.  All purport to be peanut and nut free, it's just that some of us have problems with more than just those foods.

And one church we found does serve Rice Chex.  That's an allergy free snack!  It's safe for most people.  Unfortunately, we didn't care for that church even though they had good allergy policies.

So, churches are trying hard to be accommodating and they think they are allergy safe.  I appreciate their efforts but they're not quite there yet!

The problem with most churches is that they suggest I bring my own snack for Bee, but they continue to serve the regular snack to the other kids in the room.  They have such a difficult time understanding that Bee can't be around the other kids while they eat the unsafe snack.  Three-year-olds are notorious for spilling, sharing, and touching.  And Bee isn't old enough to advocate for herself and her allergies.  It's an unsafe situation all around.

It is amazing how unbending places are with the food policies.  The suggestion of changing or eliminating the snack is appalling to them.  Food is such a huge point of contention.  I feel like we are infamous before we even walk in the church doors.  It's not a good way to start out and to make friends.

Can you say isolating??

Some churches have no allergy protocols while others have started to implement a system for tracking the special needs of different children.  That's one step in the right direction.

But how do they handle their allergy kiddos?  With big, brightly colored allergy stickers.  I'm not sure how I feel about this policy, but that's for another post.


Rachel said...

I also have a daughter with multiple food allergies. My church just asked me to step up and help coordinate the nursery. We currently have no allergy policies and I pack my own food for my daughter, but she is into everything and still gets to the "bad food" from time to time. I'm trying to turn this nursery into an allergy friendly one and would love your suggestions. You can email me at Run2God at gmail dot com with any of your suggestions. Thank you so much!

Kellie Johnson said...

I am a Christian Education Director. I found your blog as I was searching for information on safe snack foods for our church nursery. Your blog has included lots of bad choices and things that churches are doing wrong, but didn't provide safe choices (other than rice Chex), which is what I was looking for. I'm trying to do my part in providing a safe space for children with allergies. I would love additional suggestions. Thanks!

Lexi Henegar said...

I'll write an updated post on that soon. Unfortunately because everyone's allergies are so very different, it can be hard to accommodate everyone with one policy.

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