Food-Allergic Kids Can Have Fun, Safe School Field Trips
Food allergies and field trips can be a combination for worry, especially if your child has severe food allergies. As your child gets older, they will take on more of the responsibility to stay safe on field trips, but younger kids are always going to need reminders and help from adults. Here are some tips:
Field trip schedule. Check with your child’s teacher in advance of the field trip for details so you can be better prepared.
School health office and/or nurse. Give a call to the school nurse to speak about medications and review emergency procedures for your child.
Adult helper. If you aren’t a chaperone, you’ll want someone to keep an extra watch on your child. It could be the teacher, another parent chaperone who knows your child or a health aide, whoever has the time and know-how about keeping your child safe. .
Brown bag lunches. Many times, kids are not allowed to bring a lunch box on their field trip. (If this is really an issue, speak with the teacher. Usually you can get an accommodation for food allergies.) You will want to pack some paper towels that your child can use as a place mat at the table, to protect their safe food from any allergens left over from previous lunch-eaters.
If your child does brown bag it, peanut butter substitutes such as SunButter are helpful for a brown bag lunch. Label it so the teacher knows it’s not peanut butter.
Lunch with the teacher. Sometimes food-allergic kids get an “honor spot” next to the teacher at lunchtime so that the teacher can easily keep an eye on them.
Safety basics. Even young kids can learn to wash their hands before eating and say “no” to foods they aren’t sure about. Make sure that your young child understands they should find an adult right away if they are having problems. Role playing situations with your child will give both of you confidence.
After the field trip. Contact your child’s teacher to discuss how things went. Show appreciation and maybe send a thank you note to help build a sense of teamwork.
Most field trips turn out to be an exciting adventure with no major hurdles. And, of course, it’s important for you to encourage your child to have fun. But being prepared and going over the safety rules beforehand is a huge step in making your child’s field trips fun, educational and safe.