Girl Scouts and food allergies -- from the leaders\' perspective

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I know there have been some heavy duty Girl Scout discussions here before. Can you help me with another one?

I am asking this on behalf of a friend who is leading a Girl Scout troop in the states. She told me I could post the scenario here. I'm in Canada, and my DD is involved in Girl Guides (not Scouts), and the two things aren't quite the same, so I'm of no help to her but thought you folks could be!

She is organizing a Thinking Day event that involves each troop bringing a food from another country. (That is to say, a food that represents that country. As opposed to going to that country and bringing back their food! LOL) In one of the other troops there is a mom of a PA child who is sending out emails to all the leaders in the service area saying that providing a list of ingredients at the event is not enough and that ALL allergens should not be allowed to be used in any of the dishes. My friend cannot see how that would be possible, considering the wide variety of food that is going to be there.

My friend is the organizer of the food portion of the event. What is her PERSONAL responsibility here? What is the responsibility of the Scouts organization? What is the responsibility of the parent?

So far she has sent a letter to all involved parents asking that peanuts not be used in any dishes and that all ingredients be listed at each table so that parents can decide if their child should eat that dish or not.

The mother is not satisfied with that. She wants a total ban on ALL allergens. The thing is, all this food will be prepared in the homes of the individual parents. Of course it will be impossible for my friend to say that the food is safe and free from ALL allergens. Cross-contamination happens.

The mother is pressuring that the event be made safe for her child. How much more can my friend and the Scouts do? Or do they have to do more than that?

I find it so odd to be on THIS end of this debate. Usually *I* am the pushy parent! But in this case I feel like my friend has done everything SHE can personally do, and now it's up to the parent. But it sounds like this mom expects to be able to have her DD show up to a completely "clean" event and to have everyone else reduce the risks for her.

If it were me, my kid would not be at the event and that's how we would deal with it. I know it's a head-in-sand approach, but I'd rather be safe than dead. I suppose this is, ultimately, a question about exclusion. Or is it? In your opinion, is this child being excluded because of this? What would you want as a parent? What would you be satisfied with? What would you be willing to do or not do? What would you be willing to accept or not accept?

And to the Girl Scout experts here ... what more can she do? Or need she do any more?

Thoughts and opinions GREATLY appreciated!!

On Jan 11, 2006

What does she mean, "all allergens"? Just about any food is potentially allergenic!

It makes sense to find out what specific food allergies troop members have and not allowing foods containing those ingredients. It also makes sense to ask parents to send in a complete ingredients list with the finished produt. But it seems silly to outright ban a food that no one in the troop is actually allergic to.

[This message has been edited by Just Looking (edited January 11, 2006).]

On Jan 11, 2006

As I understand it (and she will correct me if I'm wrong because she is watching the progress of this thread) there are NO other girls within the region that have food allergies, as far as she has heard. As I understood it, it was simply a matter of this mother using the other allergens as more weight behind her argument.

*** I edited this post because I did not quite have it right and she DID correct me. Slight change here. [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]

[This message has been edited by teacher (edited January 11, 2006).]

On Jan 11, 2006

It would be impossible to make food that contains no allergens. How could a dish be made without milk, soy, eggs, pn, tn, fish, meats, beans, fruits, veg., etc. They would just bring water. Every food is a potential allergen to somebody. I guess there are a few options. 1)Not have a food event. 2)If the parent wants the child to participate, ask that the specific food allergens that they are allergic to be avoided, knowing that it would be impossible to be sure that cross-contamination is not present. Or, 3) skip the event. We are involved 4-H and once a year there is a Favorite Foods Festival where the children make and present foods with table settings, etc. There is no way that this event could be made safe for my ds (I guess it could, but it would not be worth the time, effort, or the altering of everybody elses lives), so we just don't go. No big deal. There are so many other things to do, anyway. Everybody does not do everything.

On Jan 11, 2006

This is why we didn't join Daisies. I know I could fight my way through it, but we have so many choices for activities where food is not so often central in badge activities, fundraising and social events. It just seems like one battle after another, going into it, and I chose to avoid that until dd expresses an interest(if she ever does).

Not saying girls shouldn't do it, but there is this big conflict. I think many badges involve food and there is the cookie sale at very least. I choose not to deal with it.

Personally, I think your friend has offerred enough. I do not know what the organization policy is. If there will be no nuts and the child has a nut allergy, and all ingredients will be listed, that seems acceptable. Let the other families worry about the other allergens as they feel they need. I still would not let my dd eat a blessed thing there. All made in others' homes??? No way. Who knows what goes on there. So, since We do not eat community pot luck selections, I usually just ask it be nut free, and we still bring our own food for the children. Dh and I will eat the offerings. becca

On Jan 11, 2006

Naturemom,

Thank you for your reply. I am with you ... my kid does not attend activities like this. But this mom is reeeeally pushing for inclusion and not being very nice about it. (Note to self .... being a b**** does not always get you everywhere! I've commented that people like that make it harder for the rest of us PA moms. Grr.)

On Jan 11, 2006

Thanks, becca. [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]

It's nice to hear another PA parent say that was enough. My friend tries really hard to accomodate her friends with allergies and she really doesn't deserve this hassle.

I am hoping someone here will be familiar with the US Girl Scouts policies, because I haven't been able to find them, assuming they exist. Surely this is not a new issue for them. As you say, a LOT of activities involve food and they (the USGS) encourage inclusion. It would be interesting to know how they juxtapose the two.

On Jan 11, 2006

Hi!

I am quite involved w/ the Girl Scouts &, at least around here, we have moved away from food as the vehicle for World Thinking Day (the annual GS international event). We have done this primarily to accommodate allergies and to cut down on the mess generated at the school where the event is held.

It sounds to me that your friend has made a good faith effort to handle the issue so I wouldn't worry too much about it if I were in her position. However, I would not let my child eat *anything* at an event like this &, as a result, she would have a terrible time, so I sort of understand what the mom is trying to do for her kid.

For future years, there are tons of other things that can be done for Thinking Day... games from around the world, movies from around the world, holidays from around the world, etc. Maybe your friend could consider those instead.

On Jan 11, 2006

Hi Anne! I'm glad you are here. I was looking at old threads about Girl Scouts and noticed you were a prolific poster on those topics. I'm glad you came to offer your opinion. [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img] Thank you. [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]

Interesting how so many of us will just not have our children participate. I guess we have all wisely chosen which battles to fight, eh? [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]

On Jan 11, 2006

I am going to go out on a limb here with some analogies or comparisons. I mean, I understand inclusion and disabilities. I do. However, if one were blind, perhaps a film festival might not be the best choice for a good time. There could be accomodations made, like descriptions, and written material(Braille) and other things. I might imagine that *some* kids in wheelchairs just do not feel fully included no matter what accomodations are made to a building and at a dance. So, even though we can insist on, and receive accomodations, there simply are events that might not be the *best choice* for a great time.

There are some things I have just never really persued or enjoyed or done because my vision isn't perfect. I have a very full life and rarely give it a passing thought. Sometimes I worry that if I push to hard in too many places to make it work for dd, she feels conspicuous. We just focus on active things that seem least likey to involve food. We like it that way anyway, from a health point of view. Trying to take the food away from the focus of all fun times.

I *love* Anne Parrish's suggestions. It always seems like a no brainer to come up with non-food alternatives. Searching for art, games, music and such from other countries would certainly involve a more broad exposure to other cultures. However, again and again, we read about these stand-offs!

I am not being critical of your friend, teacher. She is likely just carrying out the piece of the event as it has been for years. Not like she could change it all just this year all at once. But the bigger organizations governing bodies really need to get the food out of everything. The food allergy stories are out there every day now. They need to get it. Lets just let families feed the kids themselves and move onto more fun and active things! becca

[This message has been edited by becca (edited January 11, 2006).]

On Jan 11, 2006

becca ... excellent ideas and points, as always!

I know you're not being critical. I know she is reading this thread and I'm sure she will take it the same way. I/we appreciate the ideas, suggestions, and help. [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]

I am not 100% sure, but I believe that the event is not her "baby," but rather she has been assigned to take care of the food, which is why she is taking on this parent. Just have to clarify that she, personally, has not chosen the activity or event. [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]

On Jan 11, 2006

I was a prominent poster in the Girl Scout threads back in 2002 when my dd cried for me to put her in and I had regrets the minute I did it. We had an international food day. Each troop had a table with some sort of ethnic food. My only request was not bring anything with peanuts due to airborne/contact issues. Dd was not going to eat it anyhow. Dd is also allergic to milk but I did not request milk free since dd was not going to eat it. I did not even request nut free, just peanut free as dd is not TNA. Even that small request of no peanuts was not granted. They told me there would be no peanuts and then the crazy leader that I was always posting about on this board snuck in something with peanuts at our booth. It was very upsetting for dd.

Back to the original question, no way can the food allergic child really eat stuff made in other people`s kitchens anyhow, so what is the point in making it allergen free? That mother is over the line. I can see the no nuts due to airborne/contact issues. Anything more than that is asking too much, as the child can`t safely eat the food anyhow due to cross contamination in people`s kitchens.

On Jan 11, 2006

Quote:

Originally posted by Carefulmom: [b]Back to the original question, no way can the food allergic child really eat stuff made in other people`s kitchens anyhow, so what is the point in making it allergen free? That mother is over the line. I can see the no nuts due to airborne/contact issues. Anything more than that is asking too much, as the child can`t safely eat the food anyhow due to cross contamination in people`s kitchens.[/b]

Amen. This sums up my thoughts exactly.

On Jan 11, 2006

I agree also - we wouldn't chance it anyway. We just don't eat foods from other people's kitchens, except for a very few specific set of friends that we trust on this type of issue.

On Jan 11, 2006

Yay! I knew you guys would be able to extrapolate the quintessential argument ... THANK YOU!!

On Jan 11, 2006

Dear teacher,

Are you sure you are not exaggerating how demanding the mother is? You sound very pissed at her. every time I have had to ask people to be considerate of my child's PA and not serve nuts I get the feeling that they think I am being demanding. They have an unbelievable hard time respecting the "no nut" request. Do you think that in a million years I would actually want to or like telling people what food to not eat or serve? Do you really think PA parents enjoy this? It is god-awful and unbelievably hurtful. Most people do not understand that a windpipe could rapidly close. That mother is afraid for her daughter's life. She also has a child who deserves to be active and lead a full life. I agree that to require all major allergens to be excluded is too difficult, and it should be tailored to the children participating. Are you sure you are not being the baby because you perceive these allergic people as spoiling the fun?

It is more important for children to learn to be considerate of each other than to eat peanut soup.

If you feel that this event is just not possible for a PA child to participate in than calmly talk to the mom about alternatives for her child. Ask her how her daughter could be safely included in this event. cross-contamination will likely not occur in people's kitchens who are conscious.

What is wrong with an ingredient list and recipe card? Why do you see that as an imposition? I used to do meal exchanges with 12 other moms and we always did this -- it is part of learning about food.

I geuss what is bugging me is that you sound like so many people who treat PA parents like they are trampling on their personal rights by asking them not to bring peanut butter to school. But what if a classmate could die from a smudge? What if that child is 2 years old and can't just eat their own snack reliably?

I say leave your little nuts home for a day and grow up.

You can have fun and a good meal without nuts.

On Jan 11, 2006

Hopechapel, you have missed the point. Reread the thread. Nuts are out of the even and ingredients are being listed. That is done. The mother is requesting *all allergens*, like all top 8, be excluded from the event!

Relax. Geesh! Pretty attacking post. We are alomost all moms of PA kids here(or Dads), or Pa ourselves! becca

On Jan 11, 2006

hopechapel,

My child is PA. I've been living and breathing this for 7 years now. I don't need to be lectured about what it's like to be a PA parent, nor is it appropriate to refer to me as a "baby." This has been a centered, rational, and adult discussion until your interjection.

You also need to reread my posts as you have made numerous incorrect and inappropriate comments.

Thank you again to those of you who are offering constructive advice. It is MUCH appreciated. << hugs >>

[This message has been edited by teacher (edited January 11, 2006).]

On Jan 11, 2006

Quote:

Originally posted by Gail W: [b] Amen. This sums up my thoughts exactly.

[/b]

ditto here. On a personal level, and not wrt to "food allergies"? I'm pretty particular about who's "homemade" things I eat [b]period[/b].

On Jan 11, 2006

Ok....well, no comments on the above post(hopechapel) except that I read teacher's post quite differently. And I know she has been around for a bit and understands the issues PA parents face - this situation if sort of a horse of a different color.

I am no longer a GS leader (DD moved on to other things a year or so ago), but we did an International Fair with various troops representing different countries. They did dances, played instruments, games, wore native costumes etc... for the troop country. Some did bring food, but not all.I don't recall being instructed not to bring peanut/nut food. GS did not have an offical policy regarding food allergies in my council - it was sort of addressed in leader training in a high level "get to know the medical needs of the girls" sort of way.

I really like the recipe card idea. That would give the girls a fun thing to "collect" at each booth and maybe make later. Even if the food is not served it would reference the food of that country. My Brownies loved the cookbook we made of their favorite recipes (we did not make the food they just brought in the recipes with their cute comments about why they liked it when their family ate the food and such)and even thought dd could not have eaten over half the foods she still enjoyed the book with her friends comments and pictures.

If your friend does make this parent happy - I guess that no food is the way to go, as there is no way that food from many different kitchens, recipes etc... will fufill her (IMHO over the top requirements) that they contain NO allergens.

Hope it works out.

[This message has been edited by Chicago (edited January 11, 2006).]

On Jan 11, 2006

I agree with Becca, and as far as "what is wrong with an ingredient list and a recipe card" (Hopechapel`s question), what is wrong is the same thing as buying an item in the store that says "warning: made on shared equipment with peanuts". In other words, if the person doing the cooking does not have a peanut free kitchen, there can be residue on the utensils, cookie sheets, etc. Most of us on this board would not buy something we knew was on shared equipment with peanuts. Eating something from someone else`s kitchen is the same thing, unless we know their home is peanut free.

My milk allergic dd had a reaction to a fruit drink (actually this happened in Girl Scouts of all places). I watched the drink being made and all the ingredients were safe. She had a reaction nevertheless. Clearly the blender was not adequately cleaned. That is but one example.

On Jan 11, 2006

You are right Becca.

But somehow, I could not help but feel that the major allergen exclusion request was somehow a distortion. Look at the airline board and how an airline rep. twisted a peanut-free request to an exaggerated demand. Was teacher grievance gathering?

Attacking? yes, I am hurting right now. I am hurting from an editorial our local paper entitled "Haven't we gone too far?" It painted the picture of PA parents as demanding and mocked how one school had to get rid of their soap b/c it smelled of almonds and how sad it is that the bus drivers can't give out candy anymore. This article was a response to the death of Desforges. The point was "haven't we gone too far" in out efforts to protect the allergic.

I am hurting because my child's godmother served apple crisp w/walnuts at Xmas dinner and left bakery bread pieces on the coffee table -- after we had a discussion about cross-contam.

I am hurting because my son did not get invited to a child's party, a child he loves, and I suspect it is b/c the mom does not want to deal.

I am hurting because I just had to email a group of mom's about foods at an Xmas party for kids and I don't think they all really understand -- I think they resent it.

I know I need to accept and live with my son's PA. But in the less than one year that I've had to -- I've seen how hard it is, and I've gotten a dose of how much people do not want to accomodate.

So, yes, I am taking things out on this poster.

One good thing. My family hands down accomodates my son. 2 of my sister's are Dr.s so they may know a little more. Nobody was clutching their pecan pie or walnut stuffing. The nuts were utterly gone. I have had a rough time with my family so this graciousness has been wonderful.

This PA thing is really hard.

On Jan 11, 2006

I think your friend has done the right thing...asking for no peanuts and for list of the ingredients for each dish. I think that is well enough.

And I do understand the fear of the mother in question...it is a real fear as we all can attest to. Her request, no matter how overboard it may seem...does stem from that fear of her child meeting serious bodily harm. We can sympathize with that I think.

Indeed, most parents here would not allow their PA or TNA child eat food from anyones kitchen anyhow...except of those from a select group of friends who 'get it' (as Kathy L. mentioned.)

And yes it might be time for the Girl Scouts to move away from this sort of 'food based fun'...with food allergy on the rise and all. Certainly this is not going to be the first time something like this is going to happen.

Just my 2 cents! [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img] Best of luck to you...

jill

------------------ Jill DD, 5, TNA DS, 18 mo. EA, MA

On Jan 11, 2006

hopechapel,

You didn't address me personally/specially/directly, but I will reply to you anyway. The PA thing IS really hard and I'm sorry you have to go through all that s*** that you've had to go through, but hun, I've already walked in your shoes and I'd love to support if you don't attack me! I'm sorry if my OP wasn't more clear about the fact that I'm on YOUR side. I just assumed that I'd been around here long enough and was known long enough, yaknow? Anyway ... misunderstanding and I appreciate your most recent post.

I just want to clarify that there were no exaggerations. The info here is exactly as my friend has reported it to me. She believes, as I do, that the request to ban ALL allergens is being made by this lady to pump up her own argument. That's just conjecture on our part.

The main point of the OP though was to garner information about the Girl Scouts' policies and to garner ideas about how to deal with this rather difficult PA mom. As my friend put it ... she (my friend) is going to do everything she can to accomodate it, but it's just a shame that the lady is being such a b**** about it, because that doesn't help matters.

On Jan 11, 2006

Hopechapel, I still think you need to take a step back and look around at where you are!

We have all been there, but you are hijacking this thread to vent, and attacking someone looking to help a situation. Start a topic, vent away, but all the things you list for your reasons on "going postal" on Teacher have nothing to do with her girls scout issue!

We are all here in the same boat and cry your same tears. Look around a bit, get to know us before you start slinging your judgements! becca

On Jan 11, 2006

ok

On Jan 11, 2006

Teacher, maybe I can help a little to answer your question about the Girl Scouts` general policy about accomodating food allergies. I was the one who had the thread about the girl scouts having the field trip to the bakery that manufactured peanut products. So at that point I really looked into what their policy was. There was a meeting between the G.S. council person (don`t recall her title, as I have tried to block the whole nightmare out) and some sort of a chair person who was directly over the leaders in our area, the leader, and me. There were four of us. I had printed stuff off their website which someone on this board had posted the link for in my thread. What was on the website SOUNDED like they believe in accomodating food allergies. It even listed allergies as an example of a disability. It stated that field trips must be inclusive. But when all this was put to the test, they really do not enforce any of it. The reason is that the leaders are all volunteers, so pretty much anything goes. In my situation, I had spoken to the owner of the bakery in person, and he even said it was not safe for airborne pa people. So it seemed really clear cut. I asked that the field trip be changed to a diffent bakery that made bread only (no nuts). I remember a two hour meeting with the four of us (leader, me, and the person over the leader--some sort of regional chair person, and then the person from the G.S. council). We went back and forth over this field trip and the council and the person over the leader both defended the leader. I had printed out stuff from their website and it was all swept under the carpet. Their written policy is to accomodate and include all girls, but in fact they don`t enforce it at all because the leaders are voluntary. If you do a search and find the thread "Girl scouts want to take a field trip to a bakery" (or something like that), it is all in there.

[This message has been edited by Carefulmom (edited January 12, 2006).]

On Jan 11, 2006

I remember that thread! Actually, when I searched for "Girl Scouts" here, I found it. I'm SO sorry that was such a nightmare for you.

One of the things you said sort of bodes well for my friend, who is worried this woman is going to sue her if she doesn't accomodate her daughter ... that being the fact that she is a volunteer.

It's hard trying to see all sides of this issue!

Thanks for your post, Carefulmom.

On Jan 11, 2006

I can sympathize with the mom who would like to have all 8 major food allergens banished. In my perfect world peanuts would be pulled off the supermarket shelves and tossed into a pit that was then covered with a lake of concrete. It won't happen but I can sure relate.

Now I fondly remember going to a GirlScout event like this in the '70s. There were games, crafts, singing, and lots of different troops to visit with, as well as the different food.

Here are some reasons I would take my child (and wipes and a sack lunch) to the event:

1) The best part of the event was the singing, games, and crafts.

2)The food was prepared by young girls, who were not gourmet chefs, and the food tasted just awful to me as a child.

3) I would not feed my child food out of a complete stranger's kitchen, and wouldn't trust other people to be competent/patient enough to read the microscopic labels on all the ingredients they used.

4) I cannot stress enough how badly the food tasted (and who knows if it was handled properly and served at the correct temperature to prevent food poisoning). If I wanted my child to have a positive experience of the flavors of foods from around the world, I would ask my child to help me make some of the dishes we saw at the event. Recipes for just about anything can be obtained from foodtv.com, or marthastewart.com, etc. Bonus for the child: cooking lesson, shopping lesson, and a deeper understanding of the culture which produced it.

[This message has been edited by Edinview (edited January 12, 2006).]

On Jan 11, 2006

Well, I just found my thread and re-read the first page (4 page thread) and I had forgotten that the bakery owner would not even ALLOW dd to attend due to pa. Yet still the council sided with the leaders who planned to go forward with the field trip. That makes them even less accomodating to food allergies than I thought.

On Jan 11, 2006

I guess because I have a dd with more than just PA(egg and TNA), and she shares a classroom with a boy who is PA, and severely soy allergic, and he has others, and she once shared a class with a boy with PA and more severe milk allergy(hives all over body on contact with a spill), that I see how impractical and impossible it is to eliminate all the allergens. It is what I live.

People have to eat, but they do not have to make the event a food event or even eat at this girl scout event. But I am not for bans in general, becuase I just do not feel like I could really ask that the kids in dd's class eat nothing with any nuts, eggs or soy, and maybe even wheat in it! This is the combination of very severe allergies on her class this year. Just not realistic.

I am sure there are those who would disagree with me. becca

On Jan 11, 2006

Quote:

What is her PERSONAL responsibility here?

To keep that PA child safe, and that might have to be to ban all PN stuff

On Jan 12, 2006

Having a multiple FA son, if in this situation he would probably avoid this event. I wouldn't request that an event be free of his anaph. allergens (dairy, eggs and peanuts) as I don't think it's feasible in an event of this type to exclude such foods.

The World Thinking Day theme is to focus on raising awareness of adolescent health issues, one of which is making healthy food choices. I think this would be a perfect opportunity to raise awareness about food allergies.

Bailey

On Jan 12, 2006

I haven't read all the posts yet....

But if I understand this right, the child is PA only right? But the mom is asking for all allergens to be removed? Is there any chance she has no idea what she's asking for, meaning not realizing (although this may be a stretch) that there is virtually no meal that doesn't contain an allergen.

What if the girl scout leader asks the mom for examples of allergen free recipes? I'd be curious to see what she came up with....When it comes to a meal, I don't expect people to eliminate my ds' allergens (milk, eggs, nuts). A snack is more doable, but a meal, not possible.

Meg

On Jan 12, 2006

What a fun idea to make kids culturally aware but does Thinking Day (or events in general) have to be centered around food? What if everyone brought in a hat or a flower or a game (making up ideas on the fly but you get the gist) from different countries? That way more inclusive?

On Jan 12, 2006

Quote:

Originally posted by mommyofmatt: [b]... if I understand this right, the child is PA only right? But the mom is asking for all allergens to be removed? Is there any chance she has no idea what she's asking for, meaning not realizing (although this may be a stretch) that there is virtually no meal that doesn't contain an allergen.

What if the girl scout leader asks the mom for examples of allergen free recipes? I'd be curious to see what she came up with....When it comes to a meal, I don't expect people to eliminate my ds' allergens (milk, eggs, nuts). A snack is more doable, but a meal, not possible.

Meg[/b]

I was thinking the same thing but sorta in the reverse: that the mom [i]does[/i] know what she's doing and [i]does realize [/i]that there is no meal that doesn't contain an allergen. Could that be precisely her point? Is her point that she asking for this cultural event to go on but without any food?

It seems to me that this mom is trying to make a point. And she's been pretty successful, right?, because it's caused the leaders to really think about their obligations, responsibilities, and clarify their duties, etc. That's a good thing.

Maybe she wants to press the issue with the high-ups within the organization and sees this event as a good example/opportunity to do that....

[b]Teacher, it's pretty clear that this girl cannot participate in eating the foods. What other activities are planned that she [i]can[/i] participate in? [/b]

On Jan 12, 2006

Quote:

What a fun idea to make kids culturally aware but does Thinking Day (or events in general) have to be centered around food? What if everyone brought in a hat or a flower or a game (making up ideas on the fly but you get the gist) from different countries? That way more inclusive?

That's a great idea.

Keep the food part: Girls bring nut-free foods, which allow for the PA girl to attend. The girl can't eat the food brought by others, but she can eat one that her mom prepares and brings.

A new component is added: Girls also bring a non-food item (a hat, activity, a song, a demonstration, whatever etc.) that they will share with the group. That ensures that everyone (including this girl) can participate.

Would that work? Seems like that would be a good compromise on both sides.

[This message has been edited by Gail W (edited January 12, 2006).]

On Jan 12, 2006

Quote:

Originally posted by teacher: [b] But this mom is reeeeally pushing for inclusion and not being very nice about it. (Note to self .... being a b**** does not always get you everywhere! I've commented that people like that make it harder for the rest of us PA moms. Grr.)[/b]

I keep thinking about this. And about the girl...

I would hope that the leaders won't be influenced by the behavior of the mom. That would be a shame.... I hope the leaders will focus on the girl . . . and on making the event as inclusive as possible for [i]her[/i], and try to find ways to bend and adjust their plans that includes ways that this girl can participate.

On Jan 12, 2006

I don't think we have enough information to pass judgement on this mother. We don't know the history here. We don't know if this is the just the lastest in a long string of exclusionary events--the straw that broke the camel's back. We don't know if she reads these boards.

Cathy

------------------ Mom to 6 1/2 yr old PA/TNA daughter and 3 yr old son who is allergic to eggs.

On Jan 12, 2006

Don't forget, I am discussing this from about fourth-hand! True, we don't have all the info, but my intent wasn't to ask all of you to pass judgment on the mother. What I was most interested in was (a) info about US Girl Scouts, and (b) how you as parents felt towards the choices my friend was making with her troop. She is reading the thread as it goes along and educating herself, no doubt.

Take the rest with a grain of salt. To quote James Frey ...... these are MY "memoirs." Heh .... I crack myself up! But seriously, it never hurts anybody to see things from another direction. Here I am, as a mom of a PA kid, and I am approaching this from the other side of the discussion for the most part.

It's all good.

On Jan 12, 2006

And Gail, I am not ignoring your direct questions. I just do not have answers to those questions until I hear back from my friend. If I hear from her, I'll let you know what her responses are to your questions. [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]

*tick tick tick tick Counting down the sixty seconds to avoid the flood post .... tick tick tick tick *

On Jan 12, 2006

Well, as far as this year goes, when is the event and how many changes to the overall event can be acheived by the time it happens? I was assuming it was too late to eliminate food and revamp the entire event and assume as well, that is beyond what teacher's friend could easily accomplish at this point.

I think the focus of finding a way to include this girl is an excellent point. Is the mom focusing on that as well? She may well be, just asking. What is the laguage? If I wanted my dd included, I would focus on asking for inclusive activities. That is what I do when I call our PTO about their "family fun" type fundraising events. I ask if my food allergic child will have anything to do if we attend, given that she cannot make a sundae, or eat the ethnic food, etc.... I do not approach it with demands to get rid of this and that.... They get the point just the same and offer up that there will be no nuts served, etc... Then they tell me what games will be there etc... Sometimes we go, other times we see it is not for us, and the PTO doesn't get our money either on those occasions! becca

[This message has been edited by becca (edited January 12, 2006).]

On Jan 12, 2006

Quote:

Originally posted by Momcat: [b]I don't think we have enough information to pass judgement on this mother. We don't know the history here. We don't know if this is the just the lastest in a long string of exclusionary events--the straw that broke the camel's back. We don't know if she reads these boards.[/b]

I agree ...and was actually thinking there have been times when I've been *this mom* fighting for *my* daughter's inclusion.

On Jan 12, 2006

Quote:

Originally posted by becca: [b]I think the focus of finding a way to include this girl is an excellent point. Is the mom focusing on that as well? She may well be, just asking. What is the laguage? [/b]

Hi becca,

I know what you mean and understand that 'demands' can turn people off. Maybe the mom did, may she didn't. Does/should it really matter?

I guess my thinking is, regardless of what the mom did or didn't do or say, the leaders should do the best that they can to include this girl. While the leaders are mere human mothers (I'm actually a co-leader this year for my non-PA DD's troop), they can strive to be a role model and try to accommodate this girl.

But maybe the deadline prohibits any changes.... and I think I read that this event involves several troops? .... Maybe it's too late to make changes....

On Jan 12, 2006

Yes, it's the whole region -- 300 girls. The info about not using peanuts in their cooking has already gone out to the whole 300 people.

They really ARE trying to accomodate this girl and her mother. It's just that at every turn the mother says it's not enough. That's why I asked what her (the mother's) responsibility was in all this, too. It has gotten nasty enough that my friend is afraid of being sued, and she is merely the coordinator of the event.

Trust me ... she (my friend) understands the allergy and how to avoid cross-contamination and the whole nine yards. No, she does not have a FA child herself, but she has a FA child in her playgroup and this child comes to her home regularly.

What I thought would be interesting to debate here is the percentage of responsibility that lies on the parent versus the organization. So far it seems like this parent wants the organization to take 100% of the responsibility for safe-keeping her daughter at this event.

Again, I ask, is that feasible? Possible? Realistic? Lots of us have already said a PA child shouldn't eat from others' kitchens at all, so it's moot. But this mother is somehow missing that important point. She is more interested (IMHO) in forcing her hand. It feels (again, IMHO) like this is more about her wanting to assert control than to TRULY do what is best for her daughter.

And becca, I totally hear you about the idea of removing food from activities like this. Clearly it's more hassle than it's worth.

However, that still doesn't address THIS issue, THIS time.

So ... my friend has sent a letter to all parents saying do not use peanuts, discussing cross-contamination, etc. They will post warnings at every table about the potential for cross-contamination. They will suggest that the PA girl NOT eat at this event at all, although that is clearly NOT what her mother wants.

What's left??

On Jan 12, 2006

I think suggesting this girl not eat at the event is blatant *exclusion.* That would turn me off. I would prefer the approach of, "Here is what we have done, to the best of our ability, to make this event safe for your child based on what you have told us about her allergies. It is now up to you to determine if the food is safe for her to consume with the information provided."

From a legal standpoint, and a realistic one, I think it is all one can ask. No-one can guarantee what is being done in another's kitchen. It ultimately falls on this parent to decide if she wants her child to eat this food(assuming it will all be peanut free). if a dish comes in with peanuts, that needs to be addressed. Not served, IMO. Tackle that issue.

But really, they can ask for no nuts, check for nuts, and not serve nuts. If it is too late to really change the event, what more can be done? I think am offer to revamp the event for the furutre, a task force, etc, including this mom is a good offer as well. Really paving the way for change. That would help me in that situation. I can tolerate the present if I know that change is in the works. I know how long it has taken me to accept and figure it all out, and give others that benefit of time as well. becca

On Jan 12, 2006

Quote:

Originally posted by teacher: [b]Again, I ask, is that feasible? Possible? Realistic? [/b]

[i]reasonable[/i]?

On Jan 12, 2006

If your friend is actually worried about this parent taking legal action, she should contact her council office. I am assuming that she is a registered leader or asst. troop leader and when she was approved for the position by the council (thru her yearly registration) she was granted some insurance protection through girl scouting.

Thankfully I never had to use it, but that is the way my council worked. Maybe also the council would hae additional suggestions to prevent liablity - like putting out those signs they have at Costco by the food samples that basically say the foods may contain allergens and those with food allergies or sensitivitys should ask for ingredients.

On Jan 12, 2006

Sorry - double post

[This message has been edited by Chicago (edited January 12, 2006).]

On Jan 12, 2006

Quote:

Originally posted by Chicago: [b]If your friend is actually worried about this parent taking legal action, she should contact her council office. I am assuming that she is a registered leader or asst. troop leader and when she was approved for the position by the council (thru her yearly registration) she was granted some insurance protection through girl scouting.

Thankfully I never had to use it, but that is the way my council worked. Maybe also the council would hae additional suggestions to prevent liablity - like putting out those signs they have at Costco by the food samples that basically say the foods may contain allergens and those with food allergies or sensitivitys should ask for ingredients.[/b]

That's good to know.

So what would you suggest for the wording of the notices at each table?

On Jan 12, 2006

Quote:

Originally posted by Gail W: [b] I was thinking the same thing but sorta in the reverse: that the mom [i]does[/i] know what she's doing and [i]does realize [/i]that there is no meal that doesn't contain an allergen. Could that be precisely her point? Is her point that she asking for this cultural event to go on but without any food?

It seems to me that this mom is trying to make a point. And she's been pretty successful, right?, because it's caused the leaders to really think about their obligations, responsibilities, and clarify their duties, etc. That's a good thing.

Maybe she wants to press the issue with the high-ups within the organization and sees this event as a good example/opportunity to do that....

[/b]

I thought: Well, *e**, maybe. [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/cool.gif[/img]

Often when I was [i]negotiating[/i] with my school district (and some others)........I used such a tactical approach [i]in getting what I really wanted[/i]. I mean, hinting at really [i]uncomfortable[/i] solutions.

Remember the [i]homebound option[/i] offer I made?

Remember when the school threatened to hire an "expert" to revamp their federally funded hot lunch program---(I mean, was I supposed to be intimidated, I mean, as a [i]knowledgeable individual, who was gonna stop me from having input, and yea, even the final say??[/i])

I mean, I said: "go right ahead". I even kept following up on it......but they never did hire someone. [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/wink.gif[/img]

Often, I tell give the option in my youngest's class---who does not have a formal protected plan, as he does not have a "complete" diagnosis (still not sure if that is necessary, but...)

again, I often give the option, rather, [i]make it clear[/i] I will be taking him home from class and having the school document the reasons for the absence if "unsafe" food items will be used in class. KWIM?

Lately, I've found the staff and teacher to be very generous and open hearted.

And take a stand for *a* student. A single student. While not compromising other students.

And I am sincerely, eternally grateful. [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]

I mean, you know how easy it is to just *love* my cubs. [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]

Really, I don't believe it's due to intimidation, fear, or uncertaintly, but possibly, and to quote you:

[b]"because it's caused the leaders to really think about their obligations, responsibilities, and clarify their duties, etc. That's a good thing."[/b]

Yes, it *is* [i]good thing[/i].

General Disclaimer: I am not offering advice in any manner or form. Resultant Mileage due to tactical approach may vary.

[This message has been edited by MommaBear (edited January 12, 2006).]

On Jan 12, 2006

Teacher, I agree with you on all points but I just want to point out that telling parents not to use "peanuts" is not telling them not to use nuts...just not peanuts. I don't think it should be necessary to exclude all allergens as I totally agree that this is truly unrealistic and not necessary. However, I don't think it's unreasonable to accomidate a no nut (not just peanut) policy. This may already be your intention but if so, please be very specific when relaying this to the parents. You may be surprised but if you simply tell people to not bring peanuts, they may actually think that bringing peanut butter is O.K. Make sure they realize that they should not bring any Peanut or nut containing item. In my opinion, with the above policy and providing ingredients on each dish (as you are doing), this is perfectly reasonable. That mother should feel comfortable bringing her daughter to the event with her own food to eat. If she doesn't...well, at least you tried your best to accomidate her.

Good luck!

On Jan 12, 2006

Quote:

Originally posted by teacher: [b]What's left??[/b]

Arrange some non-food activities that would include her?

On Jan 13, 2006

Good point GailW. That might help that Mom feel like an extra effort was made to include her child.

On Jan 13, 2006

Quote:

Originally posted by Gail W: [b] Arrange some non-food activities that would include her?[/b]

Actually, I meant:

Arrange some non-food activities that would include *everyone*. [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]

On Jan 13, 2006

Okay. Tried to read the whole thread.

hopechapel, it really sounds as though you need to start a separate thread - something about "just venting" and get EVERYTHING that is bothering you right now off your chest. I saw each thing that you mentioned and I can only imagine your pain (and the pain you feel on behalf of your child - the birthday party thing has always bothered me tremendously).

Okay. So, when Jesse first started school, I didn't have PA.com for the first year at least. But it just struck me that "inclusion" in EVERY activity was his *right*. Then, I did have PA.com and I remember when I was working with the principal on the Fun Fair and trying to make it "relatively safe" for Jess to attend. I actually did want a "peanut free" bake sale. I'm not clear that I got one. I do remember PeanutKate posting how they had successful bake sales at her child's school - how things were wrapped and labeled.

I was EXTREMELY adamant about these things and he was the only PA child in the school. It was like "if my guy can't do it, no one can". That included eating homemade goods (I don't think I was really up to speed about cross contamination then).

Someone else asked if perhaps this is the straw that broke the camel's back for this parent - that she has had too much exclusion because of her daughter's PA and she really wants to make sure that her daughter is included.

Then, I don't know when it happened, but somewhere along the line, I decided that I didn't want my guy eating homemade goods anyway. So, the school can have a bake sale and a Fun Fair and we just kinda breeze by all of those things. Although that does not say that I was not ticked off this year when we went to the Fall Fair and there were PEANUT COVERED caramel apples at a school that is supposed to be "reduce the risk".

I don't know. I guess, for me, personally, I've just kinda had to find a balance so that I wouldn't go insane. KWIM?

I wanted to speak with the school about the PEANUT COVERED caramel apples after I saw them at the event (especially with their "reduce the risk" name) but I had other things to deal with (the BENCH), so I didn't bother.

But I definitely understand the woman's need for her child to be included. I do think that she is going overboard if her child is PA only. I think she should request PA/TNA safe foods. Who knows? She may feel comfortable letting her child eat the other foods (as I once did).

Or, as someone else has mentioned also, she may be trying to make a point - get rid of the food in these events so that ALL children are included.

Her child does have the *right* to participate in relative safety in this event (IMPHO).

Whether a lot of us choose to not attend food related things or have our children eat the food now is mute.

I remember being this adamant with my son's school.

Is there any way in the world right now that your friend could change the event so that it does not involve food and does involve say the recipe cards?

Does anyone know if the Mother feels okay about her child eating at the event?

See, I don't fight now about the food being "safe" because we're not going to be eating it anyway. I did fight about it when I thought my guy had the right to be eating it (I still probably think he has the *right* to eat things, but I think it's for a lot of other reasons that I've decided I'm not comfortable with either of my children eating things from kitchens I don't know).

Best wishes! [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]

------------------ "That was Polanski. Nicholson got his nose cut."

On Jan 13, 2006

Still thinking about this. Your friend has done everything she can to make sure that this PA child can participate in the "eating" "food" part of the event. I do feel the Mother is asking for more than she, personally, *should* be.

Now, if there are other girls who are allergic to other things, of course, those things should also be excluded.

Then wondering why she stopped at the Top 8, and not say the Top 10 or Top 12?

But no, with my guy being PA only, when I have made such requests, as I have said I have done, I haven't asked for things to be excluded that he is NOT allergic to. That doesn't make sense to me.

However, I think because she's asking for more than what her child is allergic to, it's not about her daughter specifically (I'm reading into this). It's about the food event period. Otherwise, she would just be pushing for a "peanut free" food event.

Is anyone able to speak with the woman and ask her what's going on?

I am thinking that since she feels she has to fight (I'm not comfortable with that word) for her child to be included, she might as well tackle all of the major allergens as well so that other people don't have to re-do the same fight in years to come, KWIM?

It's not something that many of us would think to do if we're only dealing with PA, but I'm wondering if that is her thinking - she has a battle on her hands regardless, why not make it a full fledged one so that next year the parent of a milk allergic child doesn't have to start at square one.

However, with regard to this particular event, and despite her reasoning, I think everything has been done to include her child by your friend.

I just kinda get the sense that it isn't about her child alone. There's something more to it.

Best wishes! [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]

------------------ "That was Polanski. Nicholson got his nose cut."

On Jan 16, 2006

Any updates, teacher?

On Jan 16, 2006

Hi Gail,

I haven't heard anything from my friend, but this even doesn't take place until the middle of February, so I may not hear about it until then! She has the think to this thread, though, so if she has more questions after reading it, I'll get back to you!

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