Valentine’s Day is one of those holidays that can mean lots of food, and lots of food allergens, in the classroom. There may be chocolate with nuts and soy, dairy and egg in cookies, and lots of candy in the classroom and sent home with kids.
Follow these simple suggestions to make your class Valentine’s Day party safer for kids with food allergies:
Know the Allergies in the Classroom
It is possible to be allergic to any food. If a child in the classroom is allergic to corn, popcorn is not a good snack choice, even if it is free of big 8 allergens. You need to know all of the food allergies in the classroom to be able to plan around them.
Focus on Fun, Not Food
Plan your party around fun activities instead of snacks. Games, crafts, and swapping Valentine cards are all classic elements of a school Valentine’s Day party. Remember that some art supplies may contain food allergens.
Some party ideas are:
- Valentine’s Day Party Games for Kids
- Heart Crafts for Valentine’s Day
- Valentine’s Day Coloring Pages
Some classes decide to go food-free for classroom parties. Teachers appreciate the lack of sugar buzz and the lack of worry about potential reactions. If your school decides to go this route, make sure the teacher sends home a note asking parents to buy Valentines that are candy-free.
Serve Allergy-Friendly Treats
If your class decides to serve food, search out snacks that will be safe for all. Because of the risk of cross-contamination, most people with severe allergies will not eat homemade food unless it comes from their own kitchen, or the kitchen of a friend with similar allergies. Prepackaged snacks or single ingredient foods such as fruits or veggies are a safer option.
Buy Allergy-Friendly Candy
If your teacher allows candy in the classroom, buy allergy-friendly candy. Some candies made by large companies are safe for people with food allergies, others are not. My list of School-Safe, Allergy-Friendly Candy for Valentine’s Day gives suggestions of some candies made in dedicate allergy-free facilities, and others that are allergen-free, but made in shared facilities. Each family needs to decide what they feel is safe for their children.